How’s the whole work life balance thing going? Are the scales more heavily weighted towards work rather than life? Unfortunately, that’s not sustainable over the long term and can lead to burnout.
There’s plenty of information out there about practical steps to achieve work life balance like:
• Delegate more.
• Say “no” more.
• Block out times in your calendar for work and for rest.
And those are all solid strategies, but they aren’t possible for everyone.
Plus, the idea of “work life balance” is really an illusion. If you think of something that is perfectly balanced (e.g. a ballerina on pointe), it’s completely still— and only for a moment. Life isn’t meant to be lived in stillness, or perfection. It’s always changing.
Perhaps we need to stop talking about making “work life balance” a goal.
Instead of trying to achieve work life balance, what if you practiced listening to what you need?
When you feel like you’re working too much, you’re probably not listening to some of your body/mind/heart’s cues like, I need to:
See some friends.
Do something fun.
The next time you find yourself thinking, “I’m working too much” try to:
Ask yourself, “What do I need?”
Listen for the answer.
You’ve figured out how to fulfill your work’s needs. I’m confident you can figure out how to fulfill your life’s needs too.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, or straightforward. But if you have a need that isn’t being fulfilled, it sounds pretty important for you to put energy into it.
It’s not about balance. It’s about need fulfillment.
When work is taking up a lot of your time, keep listening for what needs are asking for your attention. Figure out how to give them to yourself—even if it takes some time to do so. You wouldn’t ignore a baby’s cries for food, sleep, or connection. Don’t ignore yourself.
P.S. Here’s a related article from Harvard Business Review by Ioana Lupu and Mayra Ruiz-Castro: Work-Life Balance is a Cycle, Not an Achievement.
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