I used to strive for work-life balance. It was a term that was introduced into the workforce in the late 70's, early 80's, to help companies focus on how they could create a corporate culture that would consider family life for employees and have "after work hours" available to connect with those they love. As technology has allowed us to manage our lives from our phones, and these days work from anywhere there is internet access, the concept of work-life balance becomes more of a farce. New habits have to form to toggle between where you choose to focus, and what that focus will get you in return.
In my coaching practice, I started to see a trend when my clients would say to me, they want work-life balance. I would probe a little deeper to really understand what they wanted and what would fill them up. I do share time management tools on where to spend your time and what you do during that time, but it all becomes a trade off of responsibilities, if you are not focused on whether or not that task fills you up, or depletes you. See, when I hear a desire for work-life balance, what that really means is dissatisfaction in the outcome from where they are spending their time.
These are the two points I share when someone tells me they want work-life balance:
When you try to balance something on a scale, it means you have to either add more to one side to balance out the other, or take something away from the other side to lighten the load. In doing that, you are either straining one side to do more than you are capable of, or half-assing the other side to make concessions for the lighter side. Work-Life balance assumes you need to give equally to two sides. Well, life doesn't work that way. Striving for this gets you a Work-Life Trade Off, and you can never come close to balance, which will always make you feel like you are failing.
Integration of who you are in everything you do, is what to strive for, in order to build a fulfilling life. When you are in a trade off situation, you compromise something you really want to do to make room for something else. If you are standing in your truth of who you are, how you want to show up, and are clear about what you want to achieve as part of your Badass Vision; you start to integrate that version of you into all areas of your life, and let go of the areas that don't fit.
Do you see the difference? When you put an intention out there for balance, you are heading for a life of trade-offs. When you focus on integrating who you are into all activities in your life, you are heading for a life of fulfillment. That is what the employees of the late 70's, early 80's were striving for, they wanted a more fulfilled life that was outside of their job. They only had the option to be at work during work hours, and then be with family physically at the end of the work day or on weekends. It makes sense why they wanted Work-Life balance because there were only two arenas to focus on trading off between. The term just doesn't fit in todays society and technical advances.
In my book and my online program, I share an exercise called "The Fulfillment Factor". I also use it with my 1:1 coaching clients when they tell me they have a work-life balance goal. I designed this exercise to help my clients find clarity in where they spend their time today, and how fulfilled they are in doing these activities. Then we go deeper in figuring out what items need to stay, and what needs to get delegated or let go, to make room for the activities that would really fill them up across the arena in life they feel less fulfilled in.
See when you are looking for "balance", try to replace the word with "fulfillment." When you check in with what fills you up, you will realize you don't need to trade off anything, you just need to amp up what fills you up and be real with yourself on figuring out a way to let go of what no longer serves you.