Work-life balance. You’ve heard it a thousand times and probably thought about your own quite a few more times than that.
Where is this elusive balance? What does it even mean?
When we think of balance, we often think of scales. More importantly, we think that in order to achieve balance, both sides of the scale should be equal.
Is that what we really think about work and life? They should be equal? Equal how? The number of hours we spend working should equal the number of hours we spend “living”? The amount of joy we get out of work and life should be equal?
Thoughts of failing at work-life balance may readily spring to mind as we run around frustrated and exhausted trying to satisfy everyone else’s needs and demands while our own priorities, dreams, and wishes slip away. As we struggle to find the balance we think we seek, we often find ourselves sinking deeper into the quagmire.
In that sinking feeling, we often pit work against life, like two fighters in opposite corners waiting for the bell to ring so they can start slugging it out.
That doesn’t sound like much fun.
Is work-life balance really about balance? Is it even about work and life?
The balance of work and life is really about trying to get them coordinated and integrated with each other so we have enough time to give to our obligations in the workplace and to ourselves and families at home.
The work-life balance frequently feels out of balance because we feel like we’re missing the life part.
Ultimately, it comes down to the choices we make. What kind of work will fulfill me? How much time will I spend time with my family? What price am I willing to pay on the life side to try to have everything I want on the work side or vice versa?
It seems to me that the so-called work-life balance often doesn’t work well because we have decided that we’re going to try to have it all. Or guilt creeps in and we think we have to do it all in order to be a good son or daughter, mother or father, friend or neighbor.
And so we chase it all. But in this exhausting chase, we frequently fail to make clear choices about values and priorities. We fail to say no to people’s non-stop requests. We fail to be good to ourselves.
We fail to change the impossible work-life balance into a work-play balance.
Let’s face it, work-life balance on the face of it sounds like serious business, a tug of war between the two major blocks of our lives.
But what if we turn work-life balance into a work-play life?
And what if we decide that we can enjoy our work with a playful attitude and be serious about our play time?
What kinds of results would we get then? Wouldn’t our lives change?