The Myth of Work Life Balance

Lisa Crilley Mallis, Capacity Coach

Lisa Crilley Mallis, Capacity Coach

Does the phrase “work life balance” make you uncomfortable? Many of my clients tell me that they don’t ever feel they can actually achieve a “balance.” In fact, because they have conflicting priorities, they feel that no matter what they choose it is the wrong choice . . . when they are working they feel guilt for not being with their family, but when they are with family they feel they should be working.

Instead of “work life balance,” what if you used Sharon Lechter’s phrase (from Think and Grow Rich for Women): “Creating a Life of Success and Significance”? Or the idea of “Work / Life Integration”? You are ONE person with ONE life!

So, how can you flip this switch? How can you go from the idea of “balance” to “guilt free integration”?

First, get clear on your goals and priorities. Now, don’t misunderstand … having clarity doesn’t mean everything will fall immediately into place. But, you can make better choices when you know what your priorities are.

Second, make the best choice you can in the moment about where you will spend your time.

Third, commit to owning that choice. In Lechter’s words, “Commit to be ‘present’ whether you are at home with your family or at the office. Instead of looking at choices you make as ‘sacrifices’, look at them as ‘investments’ in yourself, in your job or business, and in your family. Stop thinking of an eight-to-five workday, and start thinking about the twenty-four hours each day you have to sleep, work, and be with your family.” No guilt. Just be present where you are.

Finally, evaluate the effectiveness of the choice you made, so you have more data next time. The more informed you are, the better your choices will be in the future.

One of my clients recently told me that the biggest impact of our work together was the idea of throwing “balance” out the window and being OK with the choices she made in the moment. She manages to juggle a full-time job in sales, a family with two high school boys, and also owns her own business. Plus, she’s very involved in various community organizations. When she was working her job she felt she should be spending time in her business. If her kids called for something while she was working her business, she felt guilty that she wasn’t available. This circle went on and on and on.

Then she flipped the switch. She decided that when she made the decision of where to spend her time, she was going to own that decision. She is one person, and that person can commit to giving 100% of her focus and attention in the moment. Everything else can wait. Her stress level has reduced and her enjoyment of all areas of her life has increased!
The brain cannot hold a negative and a positive thought at the same time. So . . . when you feel guilt, that is all you can feel.

Create your strategy now to reduce the guilt!