When I started writing this blog five years ago, I desperately needed work-life balance. I was stressed out and had suffered a series of stress-related health issues. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I read about work-life balance. I wrote about work-life balance. I immersed myself in a whole new way of thinking and relating to my work and my life. I began to live a healthier, more balanced life day-by-day.
Over the years I’ve continued to reduce stress, live a healthier life, and explore work-life balance. Throughout this journey I’ve learned a few things about what is and isn’t work-life balance, and how to achieve it.
Photo by Colin Harris
5 Myths About Work-Life Balance
01. Work-life balance means you can “have it all”
There is no magic formula that will allow you to do anything and everything without stress, burnout, or overwhelm.
Work-life balance isn’t about doing or having it all, it’s about focusing on what’s important. Or, as I like to call it, do your best and forget the rest!
02. Working less is work-life balance
Okay, so you can’t “have it all”, whatever that means, so what about having less? Work-life balance isn’t about the quantity of your time, it’s the quality of your time. I’ve worked corporate full-time jobs, and I’ve worked part-time jobs in small business and in my experience BOTH can be equally stressful.
Ultimately balance comes down to spend more time on activities you value, plain and simple.
03. A flexible work schedule will improve your work-life balance
I’ve had a so-called “flexible” work schedule the past few years. The problem with this concept is most employers that promise a flexible work schedule rarely deliver. Ultimately your employer wants to know when to expect you, and of course they do because they need to know to run a successful business! So much for flexible!
What flexible really means to employers is you can work a schedule outside the 8-to-5 norm. You know, 9-to-6, or 7-to-4. This may free up a little bit of time for what’s important to you, but ultimately it’s not effective in creating real balance.
What if you did have a truly flexible schedule? My former boss spent little time in the office, using her flexibility as a business owner to do a variety of activities throughout the day, but she definitely did not have work-life balance. She ran herself ragged running personal errands, shuttling kids to and from appointments, and running business errands. She didn’t have balance, she had disorganization and lack of focus.
04. Work-life balance is a fad
Just a few years ago work-life balance was a buzzword that I don’t see much today. Employers are less focused on using the concept of work-life balance to attract top talent, and employees aren’t asking for work-life balance.
Why is work-life balance falling out of favor in employment conversations? Employers can’t provide work-life balance to employees because balance is about your personal choices and how you interact with stress. Work-life balance isn’t about alternate work schedules or flexibility.
05. Work-life balance doesn’t exist
Work-life balance isn’t a goal that, once achieved, you enjoy the benefits forever. Work-life balance is fluid, it’s ever-changing, as are your personal and professional needs and goals. You may need more rest one day than the next. You may be working hard on a project that will create more abundance in your future but is overwhelming in the moment.
Work-life balance is a daily practice of being mindful of your needs, your goals, and making decisions about what you do with your day.
Truths About Work-life Balance
Now that we’ve challenged the myths, let’s take a look at the truth of work-life balance. What does it look like in practice?
Work-life balance is working smarter, not harder.
Work-life balance is working and living intentionally.
Work-life balance is saying no.
Work-life balance is caring for your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Work-life balance is being honest about what you can and can’t do.
Work-life balance is letting go of expectations.
Work-life balance is doing what you can, when you can.
Work-life balance is owning your personal and professional power, and making the most of life’s opportunities to be happy, healthy, and whole.