The Myth of Work-Life Balance
Does the idea of work/life balance seem impossible for you? Far too many people think there’s something wrong with them if they can’t achieve this mythical balance. It often appears that other people have it all together, while you’re just trying to keep your head above water! If you feel like you missed the work/life balance boat, you’re not alone! Learn to BUST the myth of work-life balance. You may find that you’re working too hard to achieve the unachievable and blaming yourself in the process.
A Modern Myth
The concept of work/life balance is considered a modern ideal to be achieved. It suggests you can achieve a state of equilibrium or perfect balance. However, the reality is that the IDEA of work/life balance is a myth. And, striving for it can be detrimental not only to your physical and mental health but also to your personal and professional success.
The myth suggests that individuals can achieve a state of perfect balance between their work and personal lives. However, this idea is not only unrealistic, but it’s also flawed. There are always trade-offs and sacrifices involved in managing all aspects of our lives. When we’re not able to manage everything smoothly like we imagine others can do, we may feel guilty. We blame ourselves and may think that we’re not good enough. Trying to compare ourselves with others is useless because we can’t possibly know what’s going on inside someone else’s life, home, or head.
Maybe It’s Your Thinking?
But, maybe how you THINK about what work and life balance MEANS is the problem. Maybe you have an unrealistic idea about this concept, like so many of the people I work with. Maybe instead of striving for work-life balance, the expectations you have about yourself and your ability to juggle everything is the real problem. Maybe you are measuring yourself against an impossibly high standard, when in fact, you’re doing just fine.
First, how you think “work-life balance” SHOULD be, needs to be reframed. There is no division between your personal and professional life (even though the Boomers wanted us to think that way, the millennials showed us it’s not true!). Our personal and professional lives are intertwined, a beautiful, sometimes messy, blending.
And this blending is a continual juggling act, managing the evolving demands that individuals and families face. Whether you are a parent of small children, or grown ones, or furry, feathered or scaly ones, or are caring for your own parents – the humans and creatures we love and care for, ARE our life. Illness and appointments, evening activities, volunteer events, vacations, surgeries or end-of-life care all matter as much, if not more than our work.
The Importance of “Work”
Next. maybe how you think about work or the importance of your professional life also needs revision. Where do your IDEAS about work come from? Who are your role models? What were the roles of men vs. women when you grew up, or in your culture? Does your extended family live together, or are you a single parent? Were your parent’s professionals or artists, and how does that impact your idea of work and life?
Start with your EXPECTATIONS, and how you think it SHOULD be done to do it RIGHT! The words I emphasized are trigger words. They are words that trick your brain into thinking that there is only ONE way to do something, which is the RIGHT way. When you fall prey to this kind of thinking, it causes you to THINK (or believe) you are not measuring up to your OWN ideals. You can end up blaming yourself, feeling guilt, or carrying a heavy sense of responsibility – sucking the joy out of your otherwise beautiful life.
Ultimately, the myth of work/life balance is not based in FACT, but in FICTION.
How you THINK about the blending of your personal and professional life can lead to unrealistic expectations and guilt over not being able to achieve this perfect state you’ve been led to believe is possible. Instead, by embracing the idea of blending your personal and professional lives, maybe you can find a more realistic and fulfilling way to manage the ever-shifting and evolving demands of your life. And just maybe when you step back, you will realize you’ve been looking at it all wrong. And, while it isn’t always pretty, it’s YOUR perfectly, imperfect life and you’re doing a darn good job!
If you’d like to learn how to make your life work better, complete our assessment and schedule a FREE introductory session with me.
Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Coach and co-author of Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head. Kristin has coached hundreds of people from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, industries, and professions. She teaches Valuegenic Self-Leadership, a powerful development program engaging, empowering, and igniting individuals’ and leaders’ potential to help improve their performance, relationships, and quality of life.