Do you ever feel the pressure to “do it all?” Like you should be in two places at one time – be with your kids and be at the office? Hang out with your friends or take a yoga class? Trying to balance work and life can create tremendous amounts of stress, anxiety and pressure and ultimately can cost us our health and happiness.
What if there was another way of living without striving for balance between work and life? What if we just lived our life the way we wanted to live without the need to separate between work and life? What if you can have the life you want without compromising your health and happiness?
The New Paradigm to “Work/Life Balance”
Striving for balance in life creates a separation between work and life. This separation has us believe that one is enjoyable and the other is not and as a result we need a break from it – we need to “ balance” between what we like to do and what we don’t like to do. If we created work we loved to do, however, would we have to create balance? What if we just redefined what it means to “ work” and we made money by doing what we loved to do. To balance means to have an even distribution of weight. Is this possible to have an even distribution of our time across different experiences? Being a parent and a CEO at the same time? Being at yoga and having lunch with a friend? No! So what do we do instead?! If we aren’t trying to attain balance in life or if we don’t need to balance our life, then what does our time look like ?
A metaphor I like to use instead of work/life balance is the Teeter Totter ride of life. Sometimes, we are teetering more on the parenting side and other times we are tottering on the “work” side. Having “balance” between professional and personal life will have you always trying to attain this idea that you need a break from one and when you aren’t “balancing” you are going to feel anxious, guilty and/or overwhelmed. This is how many women and mothers feel; they are trying to do it all in balance – at the same time and if they aren’t, guilt and overwhelm sets it.
If, however, you see your life as a teeter totter ride, there is room for flexibility and freedom and won’t necessarily set you up for feelings of overwhelm because you know that when you are with your child, you are with your child and when you are with your client, you are with your client. You are teetering on one side, but you know you will be tottering on the other side as well at another time. There is time for both! The trick is to get clear of what you want your time to look like. Teetering and tottering gives you permission to be present in one area more than another because you know that you are going to teeter on the other end at another time. – You can still have it all and do it all just not all at once! What a relief!
There are two important points to address when discussing this new paradigm. First, get clear with what you want to do with your precious time? Do you want to work part-time? Full-time outside the home? Do you want to be part-time or full-time inside the home? Do you love what you do? Or another question is are you doing what you love? If for example, you love spending half your time with your child and the other half of your time creating art or teaching or consulting, then do that. When we become clear of what we love to do, our time spent doing that makes life fulfilling and much easier to be away from our children. If you choose to work outside the home and aren’t doing what you love, guilt and a lack of energy will consume you and your children. When you are making money doing what is your authentic truth, you won’t feel a need to “balance” because there is not one thing you dislike doing. Rather, you will feel the need to divide your time between the experiences you want to have in life – NOT divide between what you like to do and what you don’t like to do.
The second part to address is the importance of presence. When we are present with the task at hand, it is a win-win experience for all. If you are with your child then be with your child. If you are working with a client then be with the client. There is no greater gift we can give to people then our time. When we have decided how we want to divide our time, it is much easier to allow ourselves to be present because we know that we have prioritized time for the other things we love too. If you want to be a present parent to your child, but also want to be present with you clients, you can do this, but not at the same time. You can’t “balance” your presence with your child and also with a client simultaneously. You can only do one at a time. So do one at a time. Choose times that work for you and your particular situation. When you are with them, be with them. Trust me, they will thank you!
An added bonus of living the teeter totter ride of life is that we are indirectly teaching our children to do the same as well as everyone else around us. When we are living our authentic truth and doing what we love (whatever that is) as well as prioritizing time with ourselves and our kids, we are showing others what is possible and important; we are teaching them to live life – NOT “balance” between what you don’t like to do (work) with what you do like to do (spend time with family and friends). This is your life!
Do more of what you love and teeter/totter your time. If we are cultivating a life based on what we like, then balance isn’t required. A teeter totter ride is! Being with clients one day and then heavy teetering with kids another and so it is life! Allow your work to be an extension of who you are and a demonstration of what you are capable of. Allowing your children and all those around you to see you living your life in such an inspiring, courageous way will give other people permission to do the same! What a great gift to give our children!
Your life is what you create it to be, so choose wisely of what is important to you and do more of that! Always.
Photo credit 2