The idea of work-life balance seems to conjure up the notion that work and non-work must be in some kind of perfect equilibrium all the time. That to achieve it would mean we must have equal time spent on work and non-work activities everyday.
The reality is that this is almost never the case. Research shows it also puts incredible pressure on each of us to achieve something that I don’t believe is consistently possible. Instead, I believe it is time to redefine our concepts of work-life balance. Let me explain with an example.
Here comes back to school…
I’m sure that many of you have been organizing, buying backpacks, school clothing, labeling everything you can think of to get your kids ready for back to school next week. I know I have! Some of you are sad to see the summer go. While others maybe anxiously awaiting the day the kids go back to school to have some time to for your work or yourselves. Either way, back to school time creates a feeling of a new start or clean slate.
September’s momentum definitely effects those of us outside of the academic world as well. With only four months left of the year, it can be a great motivator to get back to work, realign and set new goals for yourself. I know I do a lot of planning heading into September and can’t wait to get started on all the new ideas and initiatives that I have worked on over the summer.
Now here is the challenge for me. Reigning in that desire to leap into action on all of the goals I have set for myself to instead choose to spend the first week of September completely focused on my kids.
This year is my daughter’s first formal school year as she heads into FS1. To ease them into their new environment the school has staggered two hour starts for the first week. So for next week, my balance will be all about my daughter! I will be attending meet the teacher sessions, organizing activities for us to spend time together, waiting patiently for her to finish the two hours she will be attending school and supporting her to become familiar with her new world. In order to do this, I have had to push everything for my business to the following week. This means I have turned away guaranteed paying work, rescheduled clients and put my goal to-do list on hold. For a small business, this can be particularly difficult as every project and revenue generation stream is vital.
So where is the work-life balance you ask?
Well, who ever said that we needed to look at balance on a daily or even weekly basis? What happens when we give ourselves permission to relax the demanding pressure to fit everything into one day? What if instead we look at work-life balance over the span of a month? Or a quarter?
Work-life Balance Redefined
Balance is about being able to choose what is important and when. Balance is about being able to dedicate time to have space in your life for all the things that are important to you – work, family, personal time, exercise, travel. For me, this means that sometimes work will be the most important. During these times, I will have to work late or on the weekends. When I am traveling, the most important thing is to experience what is around me and enjoy. When I’m at the gym, it is to focus on making my body healthy and strong. This also means, I need to make time for my family to come first like when there is an important event, one of the kids is sick or we need quality time together.
Balance for me, is about knowing that this week is important to my daughter’s life and therefore to me. As it is the only time in her entire life she will ever start school for the first time, I choose to dedicate my time to her.
The week after? That can be about work or studying or whatever else I feel is important…
How do you define work-life balance?
Is it time you changed the way you approached this concept too?
Contact me if you would like some help setting realistic goals for the last 4 months of the year and sticking to them. Through being aware, focused and planning we can make sure you find a balance that works for what is important to you.