Work-Life Balance. Does It Really Exist?
Work-life balance existence depends on a person’s definition of balance and perhaps even the time-frame within which it is being considered. Personally, I think work-life balance is an ideal. It is not something that can be achieved in a particular moment in time. Rather, it is something that can be expressed as a person moves through the seasons of his or her life.
As I look at my life, I can see the seasons when my life was out of balance, where I was living on the extreme... much like the peaks and valleys of a heart monitor. There are other times in my life when things were easy, going smoothly. It seems like things were a bit more "balanced" or even, like the straight line on a heart monitor. As I consider both the times of peaks and valleys and times of flatness, I am realizing that my life was much more exciting, adventurous and even stressful when I was living on the edge. I was fully alive, feeling all expressions of joy, stress and even sorrow. The incredible wisdom was knowing that in most cases I had the power or freedom to make decisions that would bring me closer to the flat line or balance.
I can specifically remember times that required me to assign my focus to one thing for long periods of time. For example, in preparation for a roll-out of a new software program for on-boarding and training, I went into work early, left work late and even spent a few hours on the weekends to make sure I was prepared so the roll-out would go smoothly. Another example is when my daughter was on oxygen and a monitor for months. I spent those months caring for her with little thought about work. Neither of these situations were ideal and were far from what I would call balanced. However, they were what the moment required of me. And, I was okay with that. In the first, I was honoring my value of achievement. In the second, I was honoring my role as mother and care-taker.
As I sit here reflecting on these times of my life, I am realizing that if there was ever a time I felt balanced, it is now. As an entrepreneur, I am setting my own schedule; prioritizing and scheduling my day according to my values, to what's important to me. I am managing the boundaries I’ve set so that when I am at work, that's my focus. When I am at home, that's my focus. The hours may not equal one another so there may not be balance as the dictionary defines it. However, in each moment I am feeling fulfilled, like I’m where I am supposed to be. In short, I feel… balanced. Could a new definition of work-life balance be "being present in the moment; fully engaged; honoring values; not thinking about anything else”?
I know that there will continue to be times that will require me to focus more on building my business. However, I truly believe that if I am prioritizing and acting according to my values that overall, my lifetime will be balanced. I'll judge my success in creating balance by noticing if I am present at that particular moment or if I am wishing I was somewhere else or doing something different. If I feel like I am missing out, that's a red flag that an adjustment gets to be made.
What’s your definition of work-life balance? What does work-life balance look or feel like for you?