As a leadership coach with hundreds of clients I often hear people express similar goals. One of them is the very familiar desire to achieve work-life balance.
We have all heard it, we talk about it, people need it, but what does it really mean? How do we create it?
I remember a conversation with a client many years ago about this. Mandy (not her real name) was a successful executive with small children who was struggling to find work-life balance. We discussed what this meant for her and how she could honour her needs.
To our surprise, what she realized she wanted most was the flexibility to constantly change her schedule both at work and at home. This would allow her to leave the office without guilt in the middle of the day for a school recital, but also to work late at the office when she needed to.
She was fine with having a schedule that frequently changed. Most importantly, she accepted that her juggling act would be imperfect but would be best for her.
How do you determine the best work-life balance for you? I suggest you take into account that:
It will be different for each one of us.
There is no right or wrong way to achieve it. We adapt our needs at different times in our lives.
It is influenced by our personal values.
Personal values are the things that are most important to us in the present moment. When our choices and our values are aligned we feel peace and fulfillment. When they are not, the disconnect
creates stress and negativity.
It requires boundaries.
I understand that there are always outside constraints and that many choices are not within our control. At the same time it is important that we try to set boundaries around the things that are most essential to us.
I invite you to ask yourself to list the 3-5 things that are most important to you when you picture a good work-life balance? Is it dinner at home each day? Picking up the kids from school? Not working on weekends? Not working in the evening? Having the flexibility to choose?
Once you understand what is most important to you, you can then learn how to communicate these needs in a way that others can hear and understand. This also allows you to be open and curious about other perspectives.
I know that for some people saying no and setting boundaries is hard, but there are tools to help us do this with more ease.
It will be imperfect.
We are imperfect, organizations are imperfect, and so is this notion of work-life balance.
The key word is balance.
It is a constant balancing act with constant movement
and constant need for adjustments in order to make it work.
What would finding work-life balance give you? What if you could find a way to honour both your personal and your work values?
I invite you to make peace with the fact that achieving this will be a balancing act. It will look different for each of us and it will only be good enough (perfection is overrated and in my opinion it is impossible to achieve).
When we accept these things we can feel liberated.
Liberated because we permit ourselves to be authentic and accept what we need.
Liberated because we can constantly change and adapt.
Liberated because we understand that good enough can be fantastic!
What is most important to you in your daily balancing act? What needs do you want to honour? What can you let go of?
You can decide what work-life balance means to you, and you can achieve it. I can help.