We’ve all been sold a lie. The lie of a life in balance. All the books say to have a healthy work/life balance. We are supposed to eat a balanced diet. I’m supposed to make sure that I’m never working too much, but that I’m making time to prioritize my important work. I’m supposed to make sure that I’m spending time with my wife, but that I’m also spending time with my community, and getting my alone time in as well. On the scales of life – all of these things are supposed to come out even.
There’s only one problem – they DON’T come out even for me, and I’m guessing they don’t for you either. It is dangerous when the scales don’t line up because it makes us feel like we aren’t “doing it right”, and then we wonder why we are trying at all, and then it can all start to slip out of our hands.
I got a very interesting shift in my perception at a real estate training that I attended. I expected the training to be about how to sell more effectively, tricks and traps of the current market, blah blah blah (I was only at the training to get a shared language with a client at the time who worked for the company). Thank goodness I was wrong! The training was based on a book called The One Thing, which I ended up buying and really enjoying.
The idea that they presented was that work and life shouldn’t always be in balance. There are times when work will need more attention, and there are times when life/ family/spouses/self will need more attention. That’s natural. So instead of fighting to get them both in balance all the time, anticipate the ebbs and flows in each and build your life around the fact that they can each be out of balance for a time as long as you counter-balance them. So if you know you have a huge project at work starting in a month and that it will last for 2 months, you can spend the time before that project prioritizing time with family and friends, getting out for hikes as often as possible, journaling, etc. You spend more time with those things for a little while because you are about to spend more time away from them soon. Then you dive into the project when it comes around, you work those long hours, and you put your full attention on it. At the end of the project, you spend some time cutting back on work as much as possible and spending more time with the rest of your life again.
This approach opens us up to pursue both aspects – work AND life – with passion and focus without the guilt that often accompanies diving in wholeheartedly. We don’t have to be in a zen place all the time, and we don’t have to run around like crazy people trying to please all people all the time. When approaching balance in this way we also give ourselves permission to enjoy work instead of dreading it, as well as permission to enjoy our vacations without being distracted. It helps lead to a more congruent life, which leads to a happier you. Give it a shot – it might be just the thing you need.
For more in-depth info about the concept, straight from the guys who wrote the book, check out the link here.