Why Work-Life “Balance” is a Lie — Here's the AlternativeMar 23, 2021
To say that work-life balance has become a national obsession may be an understatement.
Ever since we began our recovery from the greedy, workaholic days of the '80s and '90s people have been seeking more and more time away from work to pursue their “passions.”
We’re no longer content to sell our lives to “the man” in return for a measly salary and a few weeks of paid vacation each year.
We want PURPOSE!
We want FULFILLMENT! WE DEMAND WORK-LIFE BALANCE!
Well, I hate to be the delivery boy for the bad news truck, but here’s the truth: There is no such thing as work-life balance.
It’s a myth.
Not only is it a myth, but I think that the concept itself is actually damaging our ability to be truly content and happy. The pure GUILT associated with not being able to “do it all” is suffocating and shaming men and women into whimpering balls of guilt and regret.
Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but I think you get my point.
Okay, here’s my point: Instead of reaching for some unachievable 50/50 balance between work and life, or the popular, but archaic, 8-8-8-rule where we work for 8 hours, sleep for 8 hours and do everything else in the remaining 8 hours, I think that our focus should be placed on WORK-LIFE INTEGRATION.
Why must work and life be separate? Why can't I think about work when I’m at home and why must I “leave my personal life at the door” when I’m working? Aren’t work and “life” all a part of my everyday existence?
Doesn’t it make sense that there would be overlap between the two? Maybe an overlap is even DESIRABLE in order to help us be happy, content, and productive humans?
A “work-life integration” mindset is a new way of thinking where you understand that YOU ultimately have control over the choices you make and how you live your life.
It's more about making conscious choices on the type of work and personal life you want to live, taking the appropriate steps to achieve this, and keeping a regular check on where you're heading.
4 Steps You Can Take to Create Work-Life Integration:
1.) Ditch the personal and business calendars
You have one life, so have ONE CALENDAR. By combining your calendars and seeing the overlap, you’ll be forced to make conscious choices about what is more important.
When you have a conflict, chose one obligation and then do not re-negotiate with yourself. Be fully present at the choice you made. Don't think about what you should have done, or could have done. You made a choice, now give it all that you have.
2.) Make choices based on priorities
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s more important or pressing to work on a deadline than it is to get home for story-time. Likewise, on occasion, it is more important to be home and spend some downtime with family than it is to force ourselves to do two more hours of billing or estimates. Instead of always seeing a choice to stay at work as “bad," or a choice to spend time with family as “good," we must prioritize our commitments on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes work comes first and it’s okay to remove the guilt from that decision.
3.) Set some boundaries
In order to better integrate our lives with our work, it’s important to set boundaries at both work and home and to honor them. Cut out rubbish emails and cut back on the time-wasting meetings. Spend large chunks of time off the grid, isolate yourself in a coffee shop, quiet room, work from home, or tell people to leave you alone for half a day so you can actually do your job. Likewise, don't waste time at home. Turn off the TV. Get home a bit earlier and cook a great meal together with your significant other instead of going out. Make it a priority to not rush at home. Take the time to enjoy your life.
4.) Let go of the guilt
Guilt is nothing more than a feeling that you should’ve done something other than what you did. This “should-ing” on yourself presumes that the choice you made was wrong when in fact it was just a choice. Each choice we make has consequences. Learn to live with (and positively deal with) these consequences in a productive way instead of regretting the decisions that you’ve made.
The process of integrating life and work together, rather than having them live in isolation, gives us the freedom to craft lives as we’ve always imagined. By no longer being held hostage by the “shoulds” of life we can be more productive, more motivated, and happier with our day-to-day lives.
This integration is the key to living a good life free from guilt and fear, and that is all that I wish for you.
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