Zero Ways to Create Work-Life Balance

May 15, 2016

Work-life balance is like the 21st century’s version of the fountain of youth. We all want to find it but ultimately none of us really believe it exists. In fact, I hear more often than not the sentiment that it does not exist and that is a reality we need to deal with, not balance.

Consider these quotes by business icons from both genders:

            There is no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences. – Jack Welch

            So there’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance. – Sheryl Sandberg

I love these because they are so corporate hard core. Get it done; sacrifice; if you want the brass ring you have to pay the price; here is the reality, deal with it! I love that shit! Don’t get me wrong, I know it can be inspiring and has its’ place but damn its melodramatic!

I believe for a lot of us its gotten to the point where we don’t even want to hear or deal with the term anymore. It reminds me of dieting. Trust me, as someone who has battled an eating disorder for the past thirty years, I know my way around the diet syndrome. We don’ want to hear about another diet but then there’s that article that pops up on our Facebook feed, “The Body of Your Dreams is One Grapefruit Rind Away.” We want to scroll past but we can’t. This could be the miracle breakthrough we have been waiting for all our life. And so we bite…and the madness continues.

Similarly we are enticed by blogs such as, “8 Ways to Achieve Work Life Balance”, or “5 Easy Steps to the Work Life Balance You Have Been Looking For.” We simply cannot resist. We must read this article, because, it could be the one. And so we dig in…only to find advice like “learn to say no” and “take time for yourself”. Ok…if I was taking time for myself that would probably give me more work life balance but I am out of balance so I can ‘t take time for myself which is why I am reading this article…AHHH!!!! Again…madness…continuing.

I don’t have all the answers to work-life balance but I have a theory that might help.

Can we just lose the phrase work-life balance all together? Is our creation of a term that implies two opposing forces adding to our inability to find what we are looking for? Even the correct use of the term “work-life” uses a hyphen, like some symbolic tug of war. It presupposes that the two cannot and should not live together in peace and harmony.

I looked up what “life” meant in the dictionary and it said, “the general or universal condition of human existence.” So it’s either work or human existence; that is what we are trying to balance.

Consciously or unconsciously the term creates a mindset of black and white thinking. There is work and there is life. Never the two shall meet. They are meant to be balanced and kept separately, with each being fed enough to keep our sanity in tact. Consequently, the creativity and open mindedness to which we approach the topic are already compromised. We have created a box in which we cannot think our way out of. There is only one way to balance a scale, find equal weighted items. But what if we threw out the scale? The problem does not even exist anymore. The constraints are removed. There is nothing to balance.

Wayne Dyer certainly did not invent the concept but he put it most eloquently when he said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” If work and life are not something to be balanced, how does that change the way we look at the issue? How much more possibility does it open up?

If life is defined as the general or universal condition of human existence, then work is clearly a subset of that. We don’t balance it; we integrate it. Is work so foreign to the rest of our existence that we are willing to say 8 to 10 hours of every day don’t even count as part of our life? Can we not learn, grow, smile, laugh, cry, impact others, or god forbid, feel moments of happiness while we are “working?” What would it feel like to have those 8-10 hours every day back as part of your life?

Dr. John Demartini once said, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions.” If the question becomes, “how do I better integrate work as part of my overall life?”, as opposed to,” how do I balance work and life?”, the focus dramatically shifts and the brain starts working on a completely different question that will generate completely different answers. Shifting our perspective is everything and one of the most powerful ways to do that is to ask ourselves different questions than the ones we have been asking.

Our life is every hour, every minute, every second, and every breath. There is no telling when it might change forever or when we might change someone else’s life forever. That does not change whether we are working or not. We were given life as a gift… and we have the opportunity to appreciate and share that gift with others and ourselves all the time. Our life is about who we are not what we are doing. Do you want more work/life balance or do you want a life worth living…all the time?

Change the world…be your best.

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