The “Work/Life Balance” Myth

Today’s title is a bit misleading, dear reader. I’m sorry. It was a good hook, though, right? The truth is I don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘work/life balance’. I believe there is work. I believe there is life. And I believe the two must learn to play well together. The idea of a work/life balance is as foreign as the idea that relationships are 50/50. When, if ever, have relationships been 50/50? Someone is always giving, at minimum, 51%.

So, recently, I was asked to speak to a group about how to make work more simple. If I’ve learned anything on my simplicity journey, it is that the lessons must span across all aspects of one’s life or true freedom, joy and contentment cannot be reached. This includes letting go of the myth that one can ‘find balance’. You can not simply ‘find balance’. One must set (and vigilantly guard) boundaries.

Boundaries create balance. No seeking, searching, or finding is necessary.

What are some of the boundaries I recommend for achieving the goal of keeping work and life playing nicely together? There are many but these are my top five to get you started:

Fire bad clients. “But she tips so well!” – not if she doesn’t regularly show up or cancels on you at the last minute. I don’t care how big the tip is, she does not value what you do. Make room for someone who does. (This can also be applied to your personal life. I regularly ‘fire’ people from my social circle for many energy-draining reasons. I recently met with someone I had considered a long-time friend. After the meeting I realized “Wow. I really don’t like him” and vowed that I wouldn’t waste another afternoon meeting with him.)

Stop working so much. If you are working the weekends I have three truths for you that you need to face: 1) You have too much work. Delegate. (This is RARELY the case, by the way). 2) You don’t set boundaries on your time therefore you work at being busy, but you are rarely productive (Am I getting warmer?) and 3) You are avoiding something. Something at home, something you need to do (Exercise, meditate, relax…?); something that would raise your productivity level instead of your ‘busy’ level.

Stop the Social Media Cycle. If you own a small business, I have something to tell you: No one gives a crap about your business’ Facebook page. And the political drama and cat photos you’ve been posting on your personal page? Well, they’ve blocked those too. Stop telling yourself that the hour you spend on Facebook (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc. etc. etc.) is ‘effective marketing’. It is not.

Stop spending more than you earn. If you stop spending more than you earn you can stop working so much. This entire blog started for me because I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Read my history and know that it is okay to downsize.

Have clear direction (For your career…business…life…relationship…). It is easy to make decisions when you know, without a doubt, what values you hold dear. If you want to be the best massage therapist in town, for example, then stop wasting time with body wraps, sugar scrubs, and the newest fads. Study massage therapy. Study how you can fix someone’s problem with massage therapy. Stay true to your noble path and stop chasing rainbows (unless those rainbows happen to be on your path then by all means frolic your heart away.)

I’ve been there. I’ve had jobs dangled in front of me that I’m qualified to do, but that I have no interest in because it would mean I’d have less time to hang out with my kiddo. I’ve been there, struggling to find the point in the which all aspects of my life met in the middle, never tipping on end or the other. So, yeah. I sought balance and tried every silly thing under the sun to ‘find’ it. It wasn’t until I set my boundaries and started following the advice above did peace reveal itself. If you need help with this…I’m here for you. I’m rooting for you. I know it is hard, but I believe you can do it.

Enjoy your week. I hope the team you are rooting for wins tonight. Here’s your song for the week. Time flies, for sure. Slow down, smell the whiskey.