Work/Life Balance: Reimagined
I Came For The Ebb & Flow
Everyone who works, (ie. all of us) keeps hearing about this weird thing called work-life balance. It sounds nice and all but often when we attempt to implement changes to keep all areas of our life balanced, we fail. In rolls the negative self-talk and feelings of not being good enough at life or adulting. Those negative voices tell us that if we had ourselves together more, we could achieve this mystical and magical balance that everyone talks about.
In my own life, I’ve struggled for years with keeping home life consistent while working, keeping up a social life, keeping in touch with my extended family, and doing self-care. More often than not I fail and here comes imposter syndrome. Since most of my work centers around supporting others in finding their balance, how am I struggling to keep it up in my own life? I wonder at how simple things fall by the wayside in one area while minutiae in another area are given plentiful energy and time.
There were always ups and downs in how I was keeping up with life and all of its pieces. I didn’t like that. I needed consistency. I was drowning in balanced-based guilt. Needless to say, the pandemic didn’t help me or anyone with this conundrum. Working from home or not, I needed to find my way to doing better with distributing my energy before I found myself in a puddle on the floor, again.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve been working on this idea. I first had the idea when working with a client and realizing that the same advice I give about partnerships could be applied to this struggle for balance. I grew up hearing that relationships are 50-50. Each partner giving the same to the other but that’s not what I saw in healthy partnerships. What I saw was an ebb and flow of one partner giving 70 on days when the other could only give 30. Then when the partner who wasn’t able to give as much before, was able to reciprocate when needed because they had the support they needed when they needed it. Maybe my idea of balance was wrong. It can’t always be even, there has to be an ebb and flow.
With this change in perspective in my mind, I set out into my world with the idea of finding an ebb and flow and just calling it balance because it’s easier and no one knows what I’m talking about if I say “yeah, I’m working on my work-life ebb and flow.” Thinking about how this could look for me if I view myself and all of the pie pieces of my life as partners. Let me tell you, this took some getting used to. I saw spaces in my life that were harder as an enemy to be conquered with an aloof attitude and being able to “turn off” when I wasn’t present in those spaces. I was not being a good partner in that area of my life and it showed. So how does one become a partner with their work-life, personal life, social life, family life?
I looked for the joy. It may not have been the easiest or best way to go about it but it worked for me. I looked for the little joys and I paid the gratitude dues that I had been ignoring for so long. This was me saying I was thankful for the good stuff and that I would be curious about the hard stuff. When I became curious about the hard stuff, work stress, obligations, tedious tasks, I found it easier to say no, to find a better way, and to focus on what I wanted rather than what I was “supposed” to be doing. Curiosity was key, but gratitude was the door.
This was a hard journey. Something I’ll always have to work at but the work is good. It’s fulfilling and it’s working for me as hard as I’m working for it. So now I spread my partnership efforts and energies out to my work, my family, my friends, and myself in ways that are much easier to manage. There are days when it’s more of ebbing than flowing and I get worried. I’m afraid of going back to that burnt-out place that was so painful for me and the people who I love and love me. This requires patience, which is not something I am good at these days. I remind myself that there is always flow to “balance” the ebb in my life and there I will find myself and my joy again.
I want you to ask yourself some questions.
How can you find the ebb and flow in your life?
How can you see yourself as being in a partnership with the different areas of your life instead of fighting against them every day?
What do you spend the most time and energy on?
What do you wish you spent the most time and energy on?
Is there a way to give to one for a while and then give to another?
Everyone has to go on their journey for balance and becoming their own friend, but it doesn’t always have to be a struggle. Struggling does not always mean growing, sometimes it is us taking the harder road instead of trusting ourselves. Life can be joyful. I want you to know that.
I hope that something in this post has helped you. Even if it was in a way that it wasn’t intended. I know that not everyone will be able to take what I’ve written and apply it and see the magic happen and that’s ok. As long as it gets you thinking, paying attention, and making change.