When we think of balance or work-life balance often the image of scales automatically comes up in our minds. (Just google pictures for the term balance, you will see mostly images of scales). The image of scales implies that when we talk about balance we talk about two separate sides that should have equal weight in order to be in balance. With the implicit connotation that if one side gets more weight, the balance is lost.
This is a very unhelpful image when it comes to feeling balanced or finding a work-life balance that works for you.
- Work and life are not two separate sides: Life is not something that happens outside of work. Work is not separate from life. Life encompasses a myriad of areas and activities such as paid work, unpaid work, care, sports, art, etc.
- Finding balance is not about spending equal amounts of time or effort on work on the one hand and private life on the other hand. You can feel really balanced when you give more weight or time to your work life than your private life. Equally other people might feel balanced when they give more weight or time to their private life than their work.
So balance is not about spending equal measures of time. Balance is a feeling!
Feeling balanced is about:
- Your vitality: feeling as healthy and fit in your body and mind as possible
- Your connections: feeling you have meaningful relationships
- Your contribution: feeling you are making a contribution both at work and at home
You can think of these three areas as cups. Which cup is the most empty at the moment? Think of a small action you can take today to fill this cup a bit more. If your vitality is low- maybe going to bed early tonight or taking a walk outside might help you fill your vitality cup a bit more. Sending a text message to a loved one might help you fill up your connection cup a bit more. To fill up your contribution cup: today don’t let your email determine your agenda for the day. Instead set your agenda by looking at what is the most meaningful thing to do today. (Also see my previous blog about impact)
What small action are you going to take today to feel more balanced?