If you’re like most women, finding work-life balance can feel like a constant challenge. There’s so much more than just our career and our families going on in our lives. We’re balancing:
- Our current job
- Our career goals and aspirations
- Passion projects, or side hustles
- Family time
- Connecting with friends and colleagues
- Taking care of ourselves
And so much more.
There seems to be a pervasive idea out there that “balance” is key to being happy. It’s as though if we can find this mythical balance between work and the rest of our lives, we’ll be better at work, better for our clients, better for our families…but is that true?
What Does Balance Look Like?
For many, the idea of balance means that we’re spending equal time doing “work stuff” and “life stuff.” But all too often, splitting time equally isn’t really a possibility. For me, life tends to happen in seasons. There have been seasons where work was easily my top priority. Now, with a new baby at home, things have shifted, and “balance” means something totally different to me.
Is Balance the Right Word?
When we pursue balance, we often hold ourselves to a too-high standard of perfection. We feel like we’ll feel calm and peaceful about splitting time between all of life’s many responsibilities, and that we’ll be able to give our 100% best to each thing in our life – from friends, to family, to fitness, to self care, to work, to growing a business.
Unfortunately, achieving that type of balance often isn’t possible. When we tell ourselves that we have to be able to do it all, and do it all perfectly, we can do damage to our own self-worth. There’s a lot going on with our lives, and there will be times when things are completely out of balance.
Some seasons of life are going to be career-heavy. Maybe you’ve recently launched a business, just got a big promotion, or have hired your first full-time employee. Going through these seasons can be challenging, and your work may require more from you than usual. During these seasons, it can be draining and stress-causing to think about the fact that you’re “sacrificing” time with family, friends, or even just taking care of yourself for your work.
On the other side of the coin, there will be seasons where you’re all-consumed with other tasks in your personal life. Maybe you’re growing your family, planning a wedding, or taking care of an aging parent. Maybe you’re trying to scale back the amount of time you spend on work tasks to spend more time training for a half marathon in the mornings or evenings. These seasons can feel stressful because we’re “sacrificing” time spent growing our careers or our businesses.
The truth is, full-fledged “balance” may not fully exist. Instead, some experts recommend that we work toward work-life integration. Rather than focusing in on wanting to split time evenly, and beating ourselves up when it’s not a possibility, we can embrace the idea that every season of our life will be different.
We can work toward integrating our personal lives and our careers so that they each take up the space they need – even if it’s not during “traditional” work or family hours. You may need to skip going into the office one morning to watch your child’s school play, and some evenings you might need to respond to emails or get client work done.
Perfect balance isn’t always going to be possible. Instead, try to find a way to combine every aspect of your life that leaves you feeling fulfilled. That type of work-life integration is going to be different for every person.