Work-Life Balance. Is it just a myth?

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Guest Post by W4C3 Coach, Cornelia Shipley

Everywhere you turn there is an article or blog telling us we need to achieve work-life balance.  If you’re like me, there are days when you go “Yes – I need that. I can do that.” Then there are those other days. You know. Those ones that have you going “Work – Life Balance? Who am I kidding?” So is it really possible or is it just some ideal that we are all desperately and futilely trying to achieve?

The good news is that it is possible. The other news (not good or bad) is that nobody can define what that is for you other than you. No guru or expert can tell you what work-life balance looks like for you because it’s going to be different for each of us.  We all have different values and different things that are important to us in different ways and this is naturally going to impact how we approach achieving that seemingly elusive balance.

So if you can’t be told exactly what it is, how do you get it?

Fortunately, that’s something I can tell you. Let’s take it step by step:

Step 1: Understand what has to happen and what of those things you are absolutely responsible for. In life and in work there are non-negotiables – those things that you absolutely have to do no matter what. If you have a family, there are physical obligations like the children need to be fed and the clothes need to be clean but that doesn’t mean that it has to be you that does them. Make a list of everything that has to happen (I suggest a separate list for personal and professional) in one column. This list is likely going to get long so you might just break it up into days of the week, categories (kids, church, friends, neighbors, sports, etc.)

Step 2: In the 2nd column of this list you just made, jot down who is doing the actions now.

Step 3: In the 3rd column, ask yourself this question: “Is this action actually critical in my life?” You would be surprised at the number of things we do in life that we’re doing just because we’ve always done them. Now is a great time to look at whether or not you can just take it off the list. Taking it off sure does make it easier to find that balance you’re craving!

Step 4: In column 4, for any items that you didn’t take off the list, it’s time to ask who else can take care of it other than you. This is a tough one because often we suffer from “nobody does it as well as I do” or “it will take twice as long if I don’t do it” and you are probably right. BUT, this is not about doing it better, faster, or any other superlative. This is about whether or not someone else is capable of taking it over. You probably weren’t born the queen of laundry so perhaps it’s time to let someone else reign on that throne for a while.

Step 5: Once you transition tasks off your list, think about what you would rather be doing. For instance, if you didn’t have to do all of the laundry, what could you do instead that would bring you more joy, peace, and harmony? That, ladies, is where the balance comes in.  Finding ways to bring in more joy.

By taking the time to figure out where there are areas of your life that you can get rid of some responsibilities and then replace them with things more joyful to your soul.  You’re still making sure things get done but you aren’t always the one doing them (we’ll talk about delegation in another post!) and you’re putting your needs front and center at the same time. Congratulations! When you do this, you will have proven for yourself that work-life balance does indeed exist!

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