Looking at the hundreds of messages that come through my inbox each week, it would be easy for me to say that I need more “work-life balance.” But the real solution to not being so “busy” (surprisingly) is NOT better “time management.”
The answer is not finding more time to do it ALL. The secret, if there is one, is to start making more conscious choices that are in greater alignment with your values.
How We Currently Define Work-Balance
With the seemingly fast pace of work and life these days, we often talk about the great and ongoing Quest for Work-Life Balance. Over the years, there’s been a ton of discussion about it in the workplace, often in hushed tones by the water cooler. There are many ways the term has been defined, but the one listed on Wikipedia works for the point I want to make:
Work–life balance is a broad concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) on the one hand and “life” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development) on the other.
The whole way we’ve defined work-life balance thus far is the idea that we have to prioritize, or balance, our personal life or work life over one another at different times. This view, however, causes a huge sense of inner conflict and guilt in both “places,” as it were. The fact is, “work-life balance” is a misleading term.
What Work-Life Balance Really Is
Work-life balance is not about “balancing” work and life at all. It is about living in alignment with your values. (click here to tweet this quote!)
Have you ever noticed that when you’re not being real or authentic to who you truly are or what you really want, you feel out of balance?
- What happens when you let your work interfere with spending quality time with your family? You realize you’re not living in alignment with your value of “family first.” You then begin to feel out of balance with who you really are.
- What happens when your friends start complaining that they never see you anymore because you’re so “busy” with work? You realize you’re not living in alignment with your value of “friends are important.” You then begin to feel out of balance with who you really are.
- What happens when you glance up at the calendar and are shocked to see that you haven’t gone on a real date in two years? You realize that you’re not living in alignment with your values of love and romance. You then begin to feel out of balance with the life you want to live.
- What happens when you look down at your plate for lunch and see nothing but fatty fats and bad carbs, day after day, eaten sitting at your desk? You realize you’re not living in alignment with your value of healthy living. You then begin to feel out of balance with what you really want.
Work-Life Balance is About Alignment
What I’m getting at is there is usually an event or feeling that triggers the realization that “I need more work-life balance.” As if the only thing you need to do is go see if you can find some on sale at Target this week!
The truth is that whenever we feel out of balance, we are experiencing a gap in our personal integrity.
It’s saying YES when we want to say NO (to people and activities that drain us and take away our joy). It’s saying NO when we want to say YES (to things like leisure, exercise, fun and romance). It’s the choices we make that prevent us from fully living in accordance with everything what we say we care about.
Work-life balance isn’t about not having enough time to do all the things you want to do for your job or in your business and at home. It’s about making the time for what matters to you. Neither your boss nor technology nor the latest season of Scandal is the culprit here.
This is about YOU getting clear on your values and how you want them to play out in your life. And then making changes where they need to be made.