This week I had a new client ask me about how to create a better work-life balance. I think I surprised her when I said, "You don't." Women everywhere are putting tremendous stress on themselves to find this perfect work-life balance that doesn't exist! Let me explain...
Imagine a two sided scale. To achieve balance, both sides of the scale must be equal. This means that the perfect work-life balance is when you spend the exact amount of time in your personal life as you do working. Most likely you would rather be spending the majority of your time doing things with your family, friends, self care for yourself, enjoying your hobbies or passions. Let's face it, you probably don't want to do the wash or pay bills in the same proportion to the things that you love doing, like reading a good book on your patio, or having lunch with friends!
There are also seasons when huge projects, deadlines, or traveling for work demands more time than usual. If you stay home with your children, there are spans when they are sick or are getting potty trained, or cutting teeth etc. If you have older kids, you may be helping to navigate their peer and social pressure or chauffeuring them all over and your attention to these things consume more of your hours.
During these periods when work or unexpected circumstances takes priority we usually feel guilty about the time away from our family. But if we remove the scale completely, or make this a "sliding scale" that we adjust as needed, we can fulfill our commitments and then make the best out of the time we have outside of those working hours. Try to stop looking at the amount of time (and attempting to make it perfectly balanced) as much as WHAT you do with that time. Another words, QUALITY not Quantity. It doesn't matter if you are spending more time at home than you are at the office, if you are not present while you are there! If you are on your cell phone, or distracted more than you are actually interacting with your family and friends, then everyone still feels cheated. On the other hand, you can be fully present in the moments you have your family even while being away a lot while working overtime on a huge time consuming project. This will look different for every person, but it could mean being committed to listening to your kids when they tell you about their day before bed time, having a daily breakfast date with your spouse to catch up about the current happenings and dreaming about your future plans. Incorporating some fun things that you enjoy doing with each other, and engaging in true human connection that allows you to be 100% focused on making the best of every second together.
Let's throw out the idea that a perfectly balanced life is achievable and redefine your personal vision of success and happiness that evolves and changes as needed. You can do this by getting super clear on your personal vision. So many of us "think" that we know what we want, or what we would do if we had more free time, but we never really carve out the occasion to define it.
This week I want you to allow yourself to dream. What would your ideal day look like if you could choose to spend it anyway that you wanted? How does it compare to your average day now? Where would you spend MORE time? Where would you spend LESS time? How would you parent differently? How would you socialize ~ would you entertain more, travel more, have more friends, have fewer friends that are more like-minded? Let your imagination go wild.
Once you do this, I want you to pick one thing from this vision that you are missing in your current reality. Make a decission to integrate this in and take action.
I work with people day in and day out on the steps and action plans to create their visions, so please let me know if you need support with this. You can message me or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
Let go of trying to live up to someone else's expectations and start creating your personal vision that works for you and your family today.