I recently had a conversation with a group of friends about the concept of work life balance. We laugh over this mystical creature as though we were talking about unicorns and pots of gold.
In a fast-paced world, we are all running at warp speed. It is easy to get caught up and over-whelmed with the never-ending list of things to do. Over the last four months, in addition to my job in communications and in my role as a full-time mom, I have also started on a new goal: to write a book. I have always loved writing, which is why I went into communications, but I decided I want to see if I could pursue my dream as an author. That new focus has forced me to take a closer look at what it means to have a balanced life.
One of the biggest things I wish people had told me before I had kids is to the let the expectations go. We are so focused on analyzing what we should do and what needs to get done rather than just doing. Like all moms, I live with the day to day guilt, but I can’t let that be my driver. I need to make sure all aspects of my life are getting the necessary attention: my job, my kids, my husband, my family, my friends and, of course, me. The reality is the division of that focus changes on a day to day basis, and you must be able to adapt to the needs of each area. If my son is having a bad (or even a good) week at school, I know I must shut down the computer and spend some one-on-one time with him. The same holds true for work. When I head to a conference, event or meeting for a few days, I know I must be in the zone of focus to do what I need to do.
You can’t look at work-life balance as one picture each day. It is about examining your life holistically and determining what the work-life balance means to you. Are you giving all of the areas in your life the time they need? What can you do to be more efficient and impactful moving forward.
It is like that old saying, “how do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite.” It is so true. Each morning I spend ten minutes making two lists for the day. The first list is all of the personal things I need to do before day’s end, and the other is a list of all of the work things I need to get done. It always me to keep my eyes on the prize and control my destiny. Of course there are always things that will come up, but for the most part, I always try to bring myself back to the list.
It may not be the answer you want to hear, but there really isn’t a ‘one sized’ fits all for balance. Make balance your own and embrace it!