You see it everywhere, in books and articles, even full day seminars have it in the title. Quite frankly, it exasperates me!
It’s not because I don’t believe in having balance between work and life. In fact, I’m completely focused on achieving balance! I believe in it and continually talk about it so much that I’ve discovered a talent of weaving the topic of balance into nearly every conversation. And the past 18 months I’ve been on a journey to find more balance and as a result, I named my business Balance Point Coaching!
Balance for me began in grade school. I loved camping with my family – sleeping on the ground in a tent, being dirty and roasting marshmallows by the campfire. But equally as much, I delighted in the evenings my mom and I would put on beautiful dresses for a night out at the dinner theater. To me, this was balance. As a young adult I expressed to friends, “I can have a great time camping for days without a shower just as easily as I can stay in the Four Seasons and dine at the finest restaurants.”
But in my mind the phrase “work/life balance” implies a 50/50 split between the two. It suggests that work represents 50% of WHO I am and then everything else about me is summed up into one word, “life”. Call me senseless, but I do not want to believe that work is half of my identity and then an equal portion remains for everything else that personifies me.
In fact, I believe in “Eight Balance Points of Life”: Professional, Personal, Relationships, Physical Health, Financial, Fun and Recreation, Environment and Legacy. And each of these should encompass an equal amount of satisfaction in order for you to be truly balanced.
You may be wondering how to achieve equal satisfaction in each Balance Point when Professional takes an average of 40 hours a week for a full-time working woman, or roughly 25% of time. I’m suggesting there’s a difference between the amounts of time spent versus your level of satisfaction. Think about the saying, “It’s not about the amount of time; it’s about the quality of time.”
I’m offering that we look at our Balance Points of Life in the same way. We may not be able to consistently dedicate 40 hours per week to Fun and Recreation, though I wish I could! But if we feel the quality of our efforts result in high satisfaction, then it will be a victory. And I’m also not suggesting that we feel completely balanced in each of the eight areas at all times.
Have you ever witnessed someone standing on the platform of a Bosu Ball with the ball side on the floor? Well think of the Balance Points of Life as different positions on the outer edge of the Bosu Ball platform. At a particular point in time, depending on your focus, your strength, your particular exercise, you may be balancing a little more on one spot. Your body physically recognizes it’s out of balance and compensates by shifting a little more weight in the opposite direction. But if you fail to shift your weight, you’ll fall off the ball.
This is similar to the Eight Balance Points of Life. There are days or weeks when you may need to shift your weight (focus) to one Point. For example, you may need to spend more energy on your Professional Point of Life in order to finalize a project, renew a major contract, or help senior management prepare for an essential presentation. But when this task is complete, it’s important to shift your focus to the Balance Point that experienced a deficit or void, such as Relationships, in order to come back to and achieve balance. If you don’t, and you remain heavily focused on your Professional Point, then you may “fall off the ball”. In other words, you begin that downward spiral into feeling overwhelmed, stressed and possibly depressed because your life is out of balance and out of control.
So the next time you see “work/life balance”, I’m offering that work is not or should not represent half of your identity. Focus your energy on the Eight Balance Points of Life so you can stay “on the ball” just a little longer!
How do you respond when you see or hear “work/life balance”? What new name would you give it?