The Obsession with WLB
There’s an obsession in our culture with the concept of Work Life Balance. There are some who chase it and feel confused, anxious and frustrated. There are those who view it as a unicorn – unachievable, unattainable, so don’t even try. There are those who feel defensive of working so hard on their career and they don’t want to be told what to do or how to spend their time.
I think all of these groups of people are hurting or have misconstrued the essence of Work Life Balance and ultimately don’t get to enjoy the freedom that comes from a lifestyle that encourages this hypothetical balance.
Work Life Balance (aka juggle) Redefined
For some, Work Life Balance is like saying you have to go for perfect. Like the scales of justice. The one side has to be even with the other.
Let me cut in here and say, that’s NOT my definition of Work Life Balance.
Here’s what I think you need to know.
- Guiding principle: Life is never going to be equally distributed in any part of your life. You wear a lot of hats and sometimes, one hat is worn longer than another.
- Not all parts of your life (aka the hats) are equally important to you.
- “Balance” exists when all the parts of your life that are important to you are in healthy equilibrium enough so that when you have to wear one hat longer than another, those other parts continue to stay healthy and well.
Okay, what the heck is this lady talking about?
Let me give you a few examples.
Work Life Balance when it’s working: Kelli has a family. Her husband works a corporate job that requires him to travel a few weeks during any given month. They have three boys. Her business is booming and it’s busy as ever. She pours into her family, takes her sons to school and picks them up. She cooks dinner every night (even if it’s a frozen meal one or two night a week) so that the family can have dinner together. When her job requires her to travel, she has to spend the week before and part of the week after working into the evening to make up for some of the work she can’t do while she’s gone and playing catch up. She and her husband have an agreement to shift their routines and home responsibilities when this is the case.
Work Life Balance when it’s not going so well: Sammy works from her home studio. She’s incredibly talented and has generated over $100,000 in her online business. She loves the work she does but she’s absolutely drained. Her mom calls her but she doesn’t pick up because she feels like she’s so behind on her orders. She cancels left and right on her friends because she forgets that she said yes. She knows she should be happier because she’s making the money she wanted to be making when she started the business but feels so lonely and confused about why she isn’t happy. Her fiance is concerned for her health. Anytime they’re hanging out, she’s checking her phone for emails or messages on instagram. She feels nervous and guilty that she’s not working in her studio.
Shame and Guilt of Working Hard
This is not at all a post to shame you if you like to work hard. You go girl! I think working hard is necessary.
My main points are:
- We shouldn’t feel guilty for working hard.
- We should have clear boundaries for when and where to work. You just have to establish that for yourself and if you have a family that lives with you, establish it with them.
- You have to nurture the other parts of your life if you don’t want them to wither away.
- It’s not about equality of the roles. It’s about nurturing them when you can so that when you can’t, somebody else can take over for you (or it can survive for a little while without you).
So STOP making yourself feel guilty.
Ask yourself this question. What roles in your life are important for you? Which ones do you want to be cultivating, even if they aren’t balanced or completely even?