Want to know what makes my hackles rise? The constant message that “work-life balance” is the magic elixir.
What’s frustrating is that we, as women, are still buying into this.
Why are we still falling for it? Why are we still striving for yet another unattainable standard that’s pulling us down?
Work-Life Balance is Not a Thing
And there’s nothing wrong with you for not being able to achieve it. In fact, you need to stop owning the belief that you’re defective because you’re failing at mastering the myth of work-life balance.
I spent fourteen years working my way to the top of my former industry. I made a lot of sacrifices along the way. I assumed the trade-offs I’d made would be worth it when I arrived at my ultimate goal – running a multi-million-dollar organization.
However, I quickly realized that in that role I was overthinking every decision and my life was consumed with work. I wasn’t able to juggle everything I needed to do and have the perfect relationship, perfect soul-care habits, AND show up as my best self for my friends and family.
I desperately wanted to figure out how to make it so that work wasn’t my only focus. I wanted more energy to put towards everything else! Enter the concept of work-life balance. Aha! That had to be the fix!
It obviously wasn’t.
I couldn’t do it. It was, instead, a never-ending cycle of feeling like I’d failed when I couldn’t make it all work. Instead of feeling relief, I just felt like there was something wrong with me.
Striving for work-life balance is unattainable because you’re constantly trying to pull from one area of your life to give to another. In the end, you don’t end up doing either well and you’re not fully present in any one place – whether it be at work or in your personal life.
So, what’s the alternative?
It’s not About Balance, it’s About Harmony
Rather than striving towards work-life balance, what helps my clients to feel more aligned in their work and their personal life is understanding the WHY behind what they’re doing. It propels them into a place where they feel alignment with where they are – providing harmony.
Here’s 4 Tips to Help You Create More Harmony With Work (Without Striving for Balance)
1 – Be Where You Are
Be present and bring yourself into the moment. When you’re in two places at once (or trying to be), it’s exhausting. Make a commitment to yourself that you’ll be present in the moment, wherever you are. Especially when you’re not at work, which is the biggest challenge for my high-achieving clients.
Constantly going over the myriad of items on your work to-do list over the weekend, doesn’t make you more productive. Everything will be waiting for you when you return. You’ll get it done. You always do.
The idea here is you’re completely present and centered where you are. Remember, it’s about harmony, not balance. It’s about cutting yourself some slack. When you shut it down for the night or the weekend, you shut it completely down – in OFF switch mode. There’s no trade off.
2 – Give Yourself a Break
In my former career, it took my body waving a white flag of surrender for me to figure this one out. And I don’t want that for you. I felt I needed to be always “on,” even when I wasn’t at work. I couldn’t see how to get to that place where the switch was OFF for a designated amount of time.
Slowing down is a practice, especially when you’re used to always doing something. It can feel like you’re antsy and moving backwards when you STOP all the doing, but this is one of the best ways to bring presence and inner calm into your day (see #1).
Be gentle with yourself, and give yourself grace while you’re creating new habits.
3 – Shift Your Perspective
You get to choose. It is an empowering place to be when you realize you can give yourself permission to choose. In every moment, you have a choice about where you give your time and energy. You’re already making this choice, but recognizing it and actively deciding is freeing.
4 – What if Work and Life Stopped Competing?
When I look back on my career, what seemed so important at the time seems so trivial now. I know it doesn’t feel like that when you’re a high-achiever and your work role demands your focused energy and attention for most of your day. But accept this. Accept that when you go to work, you give 100 percent of yourself to work, and when you’re home you give 100 percent of yourself to your family and friends.
There is no Division of Time When You’re Fully Present
It’s easier said than done. Learning to be present where you are is a practice, but you’re worth it. Once you bring presence to the varying areas of your life, you realize how much time you spent somewhere else.
The people that matter most to you will feel the shift in how you show up, and the difference being present can make in the relationship with yourself is huge. You learn what you actually have control over – yourself.
When you stop striving for work-life balance and show up in your work and life completely, realize there will be days where the deadline or project is going to pull your focus away from home, and that’s ok. Realize that sometimes your family will need you to call out and devote your energy fully to them. That’s ok too.
The shift of being present is the key to bringing more harmony and alignment into your life.
And you can stop worrying and telling yourself you’re doing it all wrong.