What is work-life balance?
If you were to Google the definition, here's what it would say (from Wikipedia):
"Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between "work" (career and ambition) and "lifestyle" (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation)."
Maybe it’s just me, but that definition seems totally unbalanced.
Work vs. everything else. Who decides what proper prioritization looks like?
Isn't that up to the individual?
I believe the idea of work-life balance is just another way for us to feel really shitty about ourselves, and everything we can't accomplish.
What if I told you there was no such thing? You don't have to create balance.
Hear me out.
The goal of work-life balance is to strike some sort of harmony between work, life, and every other thing we choose to do. It tells us we should be able to handle all the things, and do them correctly. It sounds a lot like perfection, and a one-way ticket to anxiety, guilt, and burnout.
I don’t know many people living in “proper” balance. In fact, most people I talk to are living the exact opposite. They’re desperate to find this mysterious place of balance, but end up disappointed in themselves as they struggle to make it happen. The truth is, it’s never going to happen. We end up chasing our own tails, spinning in circles, trying to land in a place that doesn’t exist. It does the exact opposite of what was intended. It creates more stress.
I tried this for a while. No wonder I was eating emotionally!! Trying to create work-life balance was stressing me out, because I couldn’t create something that doesn't exist!!!!! Gah!!!! It's maddening.
What if you let go of the idea that you need to create a work-life balance?
Imagine, for just a moment, that this concept isn’t real.
You do not need to achieve work-life balance, because it doesn’t exist.
How does that feel?
I stopped chasing this myth a while ago, and I feel so much better because of it. I haven’t changed much outside of the false expectation I was setting for myself. I can see how dropping this idea had a huge impact on overcoming my old habit of emotional eating.
So, what on earth can we do instead?
Here are some ideas that might help you get started:
Set better boundaries for yourself & with the people in your life. You can set limits. You can say no. The world will not end.
Allow yourself to feel your emotions, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Life was not designed to be positive all the time, despite the many memes that will tell you otherwise. Sometimes life sucks, and that’s okay. How else would we know joy?
Discover ways to take really good care of you. What feels good? Carve out some time to read your favorite book, take a relaxing bubble bath, watch your favorite feel good show, or sit in pure silence. Feel like you don't have that kind of time? What if I told you that's just a really old story you're telling yourself?
When we start to drop the dead weight in our minds, and change the stories about what we can't do, we free up space. That space opens your mind to new ideas. What we think about, we bring about, so when you're stuck in the "I can't" thought loop, you never will. Do you see how that works?
It's time to change the story, and set new expectations.
Work-life balance isn't real. You can let it go.