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  • Writer's pictureAnda Bolojan

Forget Work-Life Balance

You must be already familiar with the concept of “work-life balance” and even wanted it at some point in your life. After all, why wouldn’t you?


We were made to envision that perfect 50/50 balance point, where we magically finish everything we need to do at work and still have time left over for going to yoga, meditating, walking in nature, reading, making homemade dinner, getting 8 hours of sleep, and everything else social media tells us to do to be a well-rounded human.


Work-life balance

Unfortunately, most of the time, reality looks a little more like this: you’re working on that report but you have to leave the office early because you haven’t been to the dentist in an embarrassingly long time. Or you’re trying to meal prep at home when an important email comes in, and next thing you know you’ve burned everything and you’re stuck eating instant Lidl lasagna for lunch tomorrow. Or any one of about a thousand other scenarios that have happened to all of us, if not every day, then any other day.


Simply put, when we’re at work, our personal life seeps in, and when we’re at home, our brain is a lot of times still at work. More frequently, it’s a combination of all those things, happening all at once. It seems like no matter what we try, work-life balance kinda always feels like a destination that we have yet to reach. It’s around the corner, out of our grasp. Maybe, we think, we could get there if we rearrange a little, wake up earlier, or just try harder.


But maybe the problem isn’t what we’re doing, but rather the concept of work-life balance itself. Perhaps it’s time for a new normal: a work-life blend.


And while you might think that this term means that everything is happening at the same time all the time, in reality, it’s about finding a way to fit together the important pieces in your life.


How you will do that? We cannot know that explicitly, but we can give you some tips in that direction that might help you. Here it goes:


1. Acknowledge the blend


As with almost anything, the first step is acknowledgement. What we need to come to terms with is the fact that the work-life blend is how our life actually is, instead of striving to create that balanced perfection.


2. Get your priorities straight


Part of the reason why work-life balance often doesn’t work out is that it’s pretty tough to do it all and fit it all in. Instead of doing that, imagine it more like Tetris. You have to fit the pieces in your life in a way that makes sense to you. The difference is that you’re choosing which blocks to fit, instead of just having this big pile of blocks in the corner, that gives you all the anxiety.


So what you need to do is figure out the key components that you want to get to in your days, whether it’s fitness, self-care, meals with the family, schedule them in your calendar, and treat them with the seriousness you bring to meetings and deadlines at work.


3. Work harder at loving your whole life


If you think there should be a bright line separating "work" and "life," the truth is you are missing out on fulfillment. Consider the philosophy of Jeff Bezos, who thinks the whole separate-existence idea is too limiting: "The reality is, if I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy. And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy."


So, instead of thinking of this as a zero-sum tradeoff, try giving 100% to your work and 100% to your personal life. Both deserve the best from you. That translates to: loving your job with sincerity and conviction. But also love your home life, and commit to that as well, unequivocally, all the time.


4. View every day as a circle you complete


Your life is not a railroad track that stops you at Point A in the morning and Point B in the evening. It's more of a circle that contains everything you do and care about, with you at its center.


There's no doubt that being happy and satisfied with your life 100% of the time is not easy, if possible at all. So rather than feel guilty that you're not home during the day, then guilty that you're enjoying yourself during your off-hours, be truly present in whatever place you find yourself, and tune in fully to the people who are with you – whether employees, colleagues, customers, or your loved ones at home. That requires that you bring your best self, and that you recognize and accept there is some work required to maintain those relationships.


5. Understand it’s a process


As with any kind of new habit or change, this is not something that’s one and done. You can’t just check work-life blend off your to-do list. It’s a process.


So it’s important to be okay with adapting and evolving. After all, this blend means that there aren’t specific ratios or quotas you have to hit. You’ll always be tweaking and adjusting, and you’ll probably constantly feel like you’re not getting the ratios right, but as with any good recipe, it tends to work out when it all comes together.



 


Life is life. You live some of it at home and with friends and family, and some of it in your work responsibilities with colleagues, customers, and, yes, friends.


Do we have to balance our roles and responsibilities? Do we have to balance our relationships? Do we have to balance the things we do for a paycheck with the things we do strictly for fun? Yes to all of the above. But we don't balance "work" and "life." We live. And we need to maximize our life experience wherever we are, in whatever activity we're engaged in.


Remember: Striving for work-life balance isn't a zero-sum game. Being fully present wherever you are, and whoever you are with, is what matters.




 


SOME HELPFUL RESOURCES


BOOKS

  • How Will You Measure Your Life? - C. Christensen, J. Allworth, K. Dillon

  • Designing Your Life - Bill Burnett, Dave Evans

  • How to Balance Your Life - Robin James

  • Lead with Balance - Donnie Hutchinson

  • The Balance Point - Rob Archangel


VIDEOS


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