Work-Life Balance is a Dirty Word
So many people seek out coaches to find a “work-life balance.” Previously a term that was perfectly acceptable and which carried either neutral or positive connotations, it has over-worn its welcome.
Initially, work-life balance was a corporate term created to describe programs to help employees increase productivity and lower work-related fatigue and exhaustion. Eventually after the industrial side of life used this term enough, just like the coffee sizes at Starbucks, everyone else started speaking the language as well.
Instead of carrying that same meaning now, “work-life balance” sounds, to employers at least, as a phrase used by employees who don’t practice dedication to their work and who have a hard time leaving their personal life at home.
I believe the term has become negative because so many people talk about it in the future tense of, “I want to achieve a work-life balance,” indicating they do not currently have that, so, therefore, they do not have their ducks in a row. There are different theories regarding why this shift in meaning has happened, but I prefer to focus on the present reality and how to successfully move forward.
There’s no reason you have to toss the idea of your desired work-life balance, but simply don’t use that term because of the negative connotation it now carries. It’s suggested that the word “balance” could be replaced by several things including “integration,” however, why walk that close to a cliff? Let’s try to keep a safe distance.
Here are a few ways to achieve the work-life balance you want and not harp on it in a business setting or (for goodness sake!) an interview:
- Know Your Intention: Figure out what you actually do want. “Work-Life Balance” rolls easily off the tongue, but what does it mean? It’s become a phrase in the same category as “Let’s do lunch!” …you may mean it, but is it going to happen? If so, when? It’s so vague… Know what you want. As one of my clients says when talking about a woman who gets on her nerves, “USE. YOUR. WORDS.” So, in this world of verbalization replaced by emojis, please remember to use your words. Is your intention with seeking a work-life balance to find some sort of limit to the hours you work? Or is it to figure out how to attend your son’s school program that will eat two and a half hours of your business day? What does it mean to you? Know your intention, and write it down.
- Develop Your Boundaries: This is an area that is key to coaching. Many of the people I work with have high stress and the problems that come along with it because they do not have healthy boundaries. Boundaries involve your respect for other peoples’ rights and responsibility, as well as the communication you accept from other people regarding your rights and responsibilities. This is a huge topic – there are lots and lots of books on it – and GILD Coaching has a special Boundaries Assessment you can download to get a better handle on whether you’re allowing your boundaries to be breached and vice-versa. It will also give you a peek into where your boundaries are not aligned so you can start working on them immediately.
- Write Down Your Goals: This doesn’t sound like it would make that big of a difference, but honestly, it does. Writing things down creates a more solid grasp of the issue in your brain. If your brain has a more solid grasp of your goals, you’re that much more likely to achieve them. Also, if you write them down and post them somewhere you’ll see often, you’ll have that reinforcement. I also recommend telling a few people who are close to you what your goals are; having them known by members of your support system may help urge and cheer you on.
- Understand The Importance of Self Care: This is a big one. Most people who say they want a work-life balance do so because their life is not balanced… and the “work” side of things is getting most of their energy. That means the “life” side of things is lacking. Make sure that your “life” side is getting the cultivation it needs. You can do this by paying attention to your body’s physical cues, exercising, taking time to rest and relax (and I don’t mean naps), cultivating your relationships, and spend time doing the things that feed your soul.
- Update Your Blueprints: So many people launch into a career and start a family with the same ideals they had when that whole journey started, and never take time to re-evaluate how they and the other people, circumstances, and ideals have changed. I’ve written an entire blog on this topic. Understanding the changes that need to be implemented in the blueprints of your life will help you know where to focus on the “life” side of this issue.
- Use Your Calendar: That nifty little tool that exists on your smartphone isn’t just for work-related things and special events. Use your calendar for everything! If you don’t know how to do that, I’m happy to teach you in GILD’s Free Masterclass. Visit GILD’s Facebook Page to view the available dates under the “events” tab, or email us (info@GILDCoaching.com) to ask for the upcoming class schedule. There are some simple ways you can make sure that the “life” part of your work-life balance is leading the charge instead of vice-versa.
Many people perpetuate their stress in this area by never fulfilling that first point above. They say they want a work-life balance but have not taken the time to sit down and define what that means in their life. It’s a common problem with a solution that may be a lot simpler than you would think. Take a few moments to put some thought into it. Take out an actual pen and paper and write down a few simple things that would make a big difference in your life – whether they’re realistic or not, it’s important to get yourself thinking on the topic.
There are several tools available for free on GILDCoaching.com which may help point you in the right direction. If all else fails and you feel like you’ve reached a dead end, use a lifeline and set a free Breakthrough Session appointment. Breakthrough sessions are all about you and are absolutely free of charge. We can talk it through and come up with a plan specific to your life and circumstances.