Work-life balance is a term that gets thrown around a lot. What does it mean? Not working 60 or 80-hour weeks? Having time with your spouse or kids every night? Spending weekends on your hobbies, not glued to your computer or smartphone?
“Balance” would seem to imply that all things are in equal measure, all of the time. In fact, this isn’t many people’s goal. Some work hard and save up so they can have more free time a few years down the road (hoping they have time for other interests before retirement).
Some may want to spend 40+ hours on their career because it’s a passion; for them, balance means having a few hours here and there to explore other sides of themselves. Others feel stifled by such a demanding schedule and thrive with more flexibility, perhaps working for themselves or freelancing.
What is your idea of balance? What are you balancing? When the pieces of your life are in ideal balance, how are you dividing your time?
Personally, I balance work, family, exercise, personal growth, fun and recreation, and other types of self-care such as sleep. I need to do most of these everyday. That can mean spending 45 minutes talking with my husband over breakfast, doing a few hours of work, going for a swim, making a healthy lunch, writing a blog post or answering emails from clients in the backyard, talking with my own coach, and watching “House Hunters” on YouTube.
I take time to pray or engage in meditative activities (including sitting by my bedroom window, watching sparrows dance on the grapevines) whenever I need to recenter, which could be 5 times a day. While work and family occupy the bulk of my time, the other activities, though less in quantity, are just as important to my well-being.
Other tasks, such as monitoring savings or cleaning the house, fall under general upkeep and weekly to-do’s. I fit them in when I feel the least resistance to them (usually mid-morning).
One coaching tool that explores these parts of our lives is the Wheel of Life. It’s a circle with eight wedges: Career, Family & Friends, Significant Other/Romance, Fun & Recreation, Health, Money, Personal Growth, and Physical Environment. The sections can be tweaked; some people separate Friends & Family, or add a category of Spirituality.
Assign a number from 0-10 to represent your satisfaction with each area. Your observations about your wheel of life can be illuminating. Are you equally satisfied with each area, or are they wildly divergent? Is your romantic life a 10 but your finances are a 2? Is your career a 9 but your health a 4?
If spending long hours at work or a dislike of the gym are blocking your health from being a 10, consider an early-morning jog in a park close to home. Do you want to be a more available partner or parent? The remedy is to clearly see where you are today, envision what you want, and take the first step to bring you closer to where you want to be. Where we put our focus has the power to unearth possibilities.
Sound simple? It’s deceptively simple, so much so that many of us are surprised when we wake up one day realizing we’ve jumped ship, abandoning our own dreams and desires.
What would an 11 look like? It’s said that coaching begins when each piece is at a 10. Through coaching, we get to stretch the limits of what we believe to be possible in our lives. I’ve experienced this myself through being coached. What mirage will be dispelled next?
Working with a coach ensures the support and accountability that are needed to make any lasting change. August is a great time to start coaching! Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how coaching can work for you.