The Work-Life Balance Myth
I know at one point in time you’ve heard someone say, “You need to have work-life balance”…well, I’m here to tell you there it’s a MYTH and I’ll explain why. I’m also going to share 5 tips for planning your week so that things run smoothly.
I was just talking about this with a client and it seems like it always comes up – this idea of “work-life balance”. The first time I heard about needing to have work-life balance was from my boss when I was 18 years old, working while going to college. I had no idea what the term really meant.
The truth is, achieving a work-life balance is a myth – mainly because it’s all life! Sure, we have different segments of life but even when we’re working, that’s LIFE!
What it comes down to is, every single choice we make in life matters! Every choice we make affects our lives, the lives of our loved ones and our career! Every decision, every choice, every time we say yes or no to something – it matters.
However, I’ve found that most of us don’t realize how much those decisions matter. You can choose to be overwhelmed or choose to be peaceful. You can choose to work 15-16 hours a day, or you can go home to be with your family after 8-9 hours.
So how do you balance your workload, personal life, being an Uber-Mom, etc.?
Throughout my career, there have been many times I’ve messed up the work-life balance, which is why I know it’s a load of hooey.
The first time was about 15 years ago. I got a phone call from my mom while I was already working late. She told me my dad was in a car accident and I needed to come up (about an hour’s drive away). Moments after hanging up, my boss told me he needed a project finished before I left for an upcoming presentation. So, here I needed to make a choice between staying even later to finish what was needed at work or leaving to go be with my family.
I made the choice to stay and complete the project before driving to be with my family.
Thankfully, my father was okay but I realized in that moment that something was wrong.
The second time this happened, my friend had just started going through chemotherapy. We had been talking about when she potentially was going to lose her hair and we were trying to keep it light, looking at purple wigs and exploring the options that she had.
She told me she’d call me if anything happened.
The day she started to lose her hair, she called me and I missed her call. I was on my way out the door after already putting in a long day when a customer caught me and pulled me back into a meeting.
When I found out I had missed her call, I cried all the way home.
I knew in that moment (again!) that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t planning things right and making the right decisions. I was choosing the wrong thing.
Something needed to change.
A lightbulb moment came after my husband was diagnosed with cancer. This was about 2-3 years ago and I remember sitting in the waiting room during his surgery to remove the tumors. I was nervous. Yet all these people from work were calling me about things they needed – even though they knew where I was.
I finally said, “no”.
I had done my work and now was my time to focus on being there for my husband.
It’s funny (funny-weird, not funny-haha) that as soon as I made that decision to say NO to things that weren’t important, within a minute the surgeon came out and said, “We got all the cancer! He’s going to be fine.”
If my focus had been someplace else, I would’ve missed that.
Finally, I realized that a work-life balance is a myth! Everything that exists in life is all life, we just choose how to prioritize our time and where to put our energy, focus, and effort.
There are just too many things in life that are important like being there for friends, your kids and your spouse.
So often, I hear from entrepreneurs that they have missed out on important life events and it makes me so sad!
To keep work from overwhelming any other area of your life, I have 5 tips for you:
- Plan out your goals at the beginning of each week. This includes all things – getting things done for a workshop, making time to get a manicure, going for a walk, making time to bake cookies with my kids. I schedule these things out and block off time in my calendar for each of them.
- Break projects into actionable chunks so you don’t end up working 20 hours trying to get something done all in one day. Breaking things down into smaller chunks also makes overwhelming tasks much more manageable.
- Let go of distractions. This has been a big thing for me! When you get distracted by emails and messages coming in, you get on someone else’s agenda and off of yours. Try putting your phone on silent or airplane mode to stay focused on YOUR plan. Distractions can also come in the form of over-committing yourself to meetings, phone calls, etc. Make sure that if you’re planning meetings, they’re helping you achieve your goals.
- Schedule out your day. Figure out which appointments you need to create in your day in order to achieve your goals of the week.
- Focus on what’s important! One of the exercises I take clients through is analyzing the important areas of their life and figuring out where their time is being spent. Are they spending enough time with friends and family? Are they spending enough time on their hobbies? If we find one area is suffering, we make sure to schedule time in the upcoming week to get back in balance.
Once you put these 5 tips to work for you, you can even plan out how to have a relaxing vacation! I used to work all day while on vacation – not anymore! I plan ahead before leaving, then schedule in an hour or so of focused work each day and that’s it! Why? Because unplugging and being present with loved ones on vacation is important.
We only have one life. It’s up to us to live it the best way possible, to live our best life every day, every month and every year! In order to do that, we need to understand what’s important to us and what we want to achieve.
When we aren’t taking focused action, we will always feel like we’re on a hamster wheel trying to catch up! Focus on shutting things down when you need to shut them down in order to stay present in what’s important.
Remember you can choose to focus your time and effort any way that you want. If you choose to spend all your time working, then make sure it’s because that is what’s important to you. If you’re struggling with getting enough time in important areas of your life, ask yourself if you’re putting work ahead of relationships. Are you keeping yourself busy instead of focusing on achieving goals?
I hope my tips help you to stay focused on making choices based on what matters most to you.
Have a wonderful rest of your week and keep focused on what’s important!
Stay up to date!
Take a break with Theresa every week for inspiration, business tips, branding and marketing updates and more!