We often come across the term ‘Work-Life Balance’ that has conditioned us to believe that there is a magic formula for having it all. This makes us believe that if we work hard and are disciplined, then we can have a job we love, money in the bank, a beautiful home, and loads of free time to spend with our partner, children, family, and friends. It seems that everybody is chasing the idea of ‘work-life balance,’ yet most of us aren’t sure of what it looks like and how to achieve it. Here are some of the myths about work/life balance that need dispelling.
Myth one of work-life balance
Balance Means Giving Equal Time to Everything
There is a myth that to balance your time, it must be spent equally at work and on life. Life is much more intricate and complex than fifty per cent work and fifty per cent everything else. Balance is about making choices. We have to choose the buckets we want to give our time and energy to. We need to look at our work, family, hobbies, friends, spirituality, volunteering, self-care, and everything in between and decide where we want to spend our energy.
The big lesson here is to choose and be happy with the choices you make. In the early days of starting my business, I used to feel guilty. I thought I wasn’t giving enough time to my kids or magazine business. Looking back, the effort I put into both areas was more than enough.
It’s important to regularly assess what needs most of our time and attention right now and prioritise accordingly. Sometimes, our work takes a critical chunk of our lives, and sometimes it’s our family. The significant thing is to understand that balance is never equal and never stationary. We need to be able to celebrate the wins and sacrifices we make to run a successful business and family.
Myth two of work-life balance
Balance Equals Perfection
There is a myth that achieving balance is the same as attaining perfection. However, the fundamental truth is that perfection is unattainable because perfection doesn’t exist. So, when we attach balance to perfection, it makes the idea of achieving work-life balance insurmountable.
Achieving balance needs us to look at our lives and responsibilities, honestly. It requires us to make decisions, which may be unpopular, hard, and uncomfortable. Balance is about choices. We need to prioritise what is important to us. I want to be around at breakfast for my children, so I don’t book early morning meetings. I also want to take my kids to their weekly running club. I run while they train, so we all get something out of it. Equally, they know if I have an important meeting to go to or a Facebook live to do that I won’t be available.
So, balance is not about perfection, but it’s about navigating around the choices to find out what works for you and your life. For me, it was saying no to some things I wanted to say yes to. I wasn’t an active member of the PTA, but I used to help publicise their events. I still don’t iron and never plan to, I outsource this as well as many other elements of my business and domestic life. Work out what you are good at doing and what you can outsource. This will help you reach your goals much quicker than striving for perfection.
Myth three of work-life balance
Work-Life Balance is Attainable
The truth is work-life balance is probably attainable but only for tiny fractions of time and then something in our life will change, and we will need to readjust. Most of us won’t even notice that our life is out of balance until we feel stretched and stressed.
We are saying ‘yes’ way too much; we are sacrificing things we don’t want to, and every little fire burning starts feeling like an inferno. At this point, it will feel like we’ll never get back on track. This is when a ‘To-don’t’ list becomes useful. Remind yourself of what you do want to do and what you don’t want to do.
The truth is that balance isn’t an end-point, but it is more of a journey. Balance is a constant state of evaluation, communication, reflection, and re-evaluation. It is a series of daily choices that you need make to prioritise the things in your life, which are most important to you. It is more about the boundaries you set and the negotiations you make to ensure you are happy professionally and personally.
It is important to take your time to reflect on whether you are making the right choices that are in alignment with this goal. I made a decision to work from home when my children were small and now they are older, I can mix it up. I’ve started to travel and do corporate work, but I still like being home-based in my ‘shedquarters’ because being available for my three girls is important to me.
So, don’t get swept away by the myth of ‘Work-Life Balance.’ Instead, focus on the things that make you happy and work in a way that makes you feel aligned and in flow.
I sold my magazine business three years ago, and I now teach entrepreneurs how to write their own content through my online courses and 1:1 training. I’ve found what I love to do and when you do that it doesn’t even feel like work! If you do work that lights you up, the rest should follow.
Claire Winter has been a content creator, journalist, and copywriter for twenty years. She is passionate about helping business owners to create content that converts via her online course and 1:1 training. She currently writes for all 41 Families magazines that cover the UK, which reach 9 million parents a year. While she was the editor of Families magazine for Berkshire she helped hundreds of large and small businesses with marketing campaigns in print, online and on social media. She also runs a Facebook community called Cracking Content where she shares writing, content and PR TIPs.
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