Balance is the opposite of settling.
Many resources exist on the internet which claim to help you find and FINALLY achieve a work-life balance. There are fundamental problems with nearly all of them.
There is more to life than those simple domains. If we stop and consider for a moment — is our life binary? There is work. And then there is everything else. Together, these two make-up life.
Not so fast.
It’s a made up dichotomy that does (admittedly) serve a purpose. However, it has limited usefulness when we’re trying to improve our lives for real. We, humans, are active dynamic creatures. We don’t exist exclusively in two areas. Work & not work. Please, don’t fall for this.
Most of the information provided on the web is fluff, if not total hogwash. It’s too often written by so-called Guru’s who may not have families to juggle — or worse are just getting into the workforce for the first time. Their advice is pointing in the right general direction but, nearly every resource or website I’ve visited has treated balance as a static point to achieve.
A Goldilocks experience where you get to say, “Ahhhh. I’ve achieved work-life equilibrium. Now everything is just right.” Real life isn’t that simple. Remember, Goldilocks had to contend with three bears after enjoying her porridge and comfy bed.
One significant exception that I’ve found on the inter-webs is the following post by Michael Hyatt, “What no one ever told you about work-life balance.”His post is still guilty of the problem noted above , but his broader discussion is more than redeeming. He breaks balance into three vital aspects that match how I think about it here at Pursuing Balance. And so I’ll use these aspects as the jumping off point.
“Balance is not the same as rest.”
As I’ve noted before, when we stand on one foot, attempting to hold ourselves in that position, our bodies are anything but at rest. Balance is a verb. It’s an active state.
All too often the internet resources and self-help books give us the (incorrect) impression that finding a work-life balance can be boiled down to reducing your work hours and finding time for yourself , so you can “unwind”.
“Don’t work 80 hours per week — you’ll burn out. You need down time to recharge.”
To a point, that’s true. But balance, pursuing balance, is so much more complex. Once we begin to understand it — we can see balance is not rest, or a static state at all and should not be.
As noted in his blog post, Michael Hyatt states that sometimes this, “takes a lot of work.” Balance in our life is about so much more than work and not-work. We want to have success in all areas of our life. That means understanding our priorities and the needs or demands of each different area. We want to experience happiness:
1) spending time with our families,
2) when reviewing our finances
3) when spending time out in the community — socializing
4) when engaged in our hobbies
5) when we find ourselves alone
6) when we look at ourselves in the mirror each morning
7) and of course we want the work we do to make a living to bring us happiness.
All this requires the work of knowing what will make us happy in each of those areas. Each will have demands on us, and we’ll have a desire to allocate our limited time to them. If we don’t know what we want out of each of these areas, we tend to just “put in the time” and look forward to it being over. That’s not balance. That’s a recipe for unhappiness and resentment.
Okay — so balance is more than just work-life. Balance is not resting. This takes us to the next part in the series — Balance is dynamic. Stay tuned — you won’t be disappointed.