“LIFE IS LIKE RIDING A BICYCLE, TO KEEP BALANCED YOU MUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD”
Why do people insist on using the phrase, “Work-Life Balance”?
Isn’t your work a part of your life?
Simply put, shouldn’t it read “LIFE-LIFE Balance”, or better yet, “Life Balance”.
The conventional definition of work-life balance is “Doing equal things in equal proportion”.
But that my friend, just isn’t realistic. Not just with work, but all areas of your life.
What balance is for me is not balance to the next person. There is nothing to say that you can’t work 60 hours a week and have balance in your life. However, if those 60 hours feel as if they are controlling you and you feel as if you are neglecting other areas; it’s a good idea to take a look at where you would rather be placing more time.
The Wheel of Life is a concept originally created by the late Paul J. Meyer. Many coaches use this tool to illustrate their client’s lives. The idea is to capture where you are placing your energy and time in life and if one area is overshadowing all the others, you should re-evaluate.
In reality, each of these areas SHOULD shift and change because different things at different times in your life will need more focus.
- If you just started a new job, you should expect to see that your Wheel of Life that month would have more of the career box filled in, then it would reduce after you get the hang of your new job.
- If you are a new parent, you will see the family box filled in more, and then reduced after a few months when you return to work.
- If you are training for a marathon, you will see the physical activity box filled in more, and then reduced after the race.
The issue lies when you are dissatisfied or never fulfilled with any area of your life because either your Wheel of Life chart never changes (one area is always overshadowing the others) or you are spending too much time trying to make all areas equal all of the time.
By trying to place importance in all areas all of the time can be a source of imbalance itself and feel like a chore.
Balance between work/family/friends/alone time, etc. have become blurred more and more over the years for most people. Especially due to everyone being connected to everything ALL of the time [thanks to the mini computers that we carry around with us all day that used to just ring and are now our email, calendars, games and even language translators].
Balance is personal and unique to each individual. What may be satisfying and balanced for some may be stressful or boring for others. The key is flexibility and to be aware of where you might need to adjust your wheel when life happens. Balance doesn’t mean 25/25/25/25 ALL of the time.
The scales will (or should) tip in all different directions depending on a number of factors and what is going on in your life. Sometimes you’ll need to make your career your number one priority, and other times, you will have to push work aside to pay more attention to other areas.
There should be an ebb and flow. If there isn’t and you are unhappy, it’s time to re-evaluate.
SO HOW DO YOU RE-EVALUATE LIFE BALANCE?
- Define what balance means for you. Complete that Wheel of Life chart twice. One for what your life looks like today and one for what you WANT it to look like today.
- Saying “No” is OK: I have struggled with this and STILL have to work at it. If you tell yourself you will be home no later than 7:00pm to have dinner with your family and your boss asks you last minute to stay late and help, say no! “No” should be in everyone’s vocabulary. Toddlers have no issue saying it, why do we as adults?
- Baby steps: Balance doesn’t have to begin with making drastic changes like quitting your job. Try changing something at work first to see what difference that makes. If you feel like you aren’t connecting with your friends enough, instead of telling yourself you’ll text or call everyone every week, pick one friend to reach out to monthly. Maybe even try a hand written letter!
- It’s your choice: If you don’t like your life, only you can change it. What balance looks like for you is going to constantly change. You have to be willing to put in the work to adjust your wheel when life happens. Easier said than done, but try the first bullet above to give yourself a starting place.
I encourage you to stop placing so much importance on what you think balance looks like and more importance on what balance really is for you. Only you know what balance looks like for you.
Don’t let someone tell you that you NEED to have equal parts XYZ in your life to be balanced. However, if you are feeling as if one part of your Wheel of Life is taking over and you aren’t happy…it’s time to adjust.
Remember, You Got This!