Work-Life Balance Does Not Exist
Balance does not exist, at least not consistently. March 20th is the spring equinox. On this day, night and day are exactly the same lengths – 12 hours. Day and night are in perfect balance. This only occurs once again during the year and that is in the fall. The natural world is only in balance twice during the year.
In spite of what is very apparent in nature, as a culture we have become fixated on this notion of balance or work?life balance. Work?life balance is the pinnacle we are told to strive for in our lives. It offers the hope of eternal happiness. However, no one ever reaches the pinnacle and it is not the source of eternal happiness because work?life balance is inherently unnatural. It assumes that there is always an equal distribution of time, energy and focus given to work and personal life. This is not true in nature and not true in our lives today.
So, what if we stop trying to achieve work?life balance and instead focus on finding our own pace and rhythm for our lives. Nature has a lot to teach us, if we just open our eyes and really see what is right in front of us. The seasons beautifully illustrate nature’s rhythm. The nights are longer in the winter, and become gradually shorter in the spring, then the days are longer than the nights in the summer and finally in the fall the days gradually become shorter. There is a rhythm to the seasons, days and nights. Nature oscillates and uses the days, nights and seasons to restore (winter), sprout (spring), grow (summer), and harvest (fall).
To find your own rhythm or pace, let’s use the seasons as a guide.
In the winter, the plants send their roots deep into the earth seeking nutrients to replenish and restore in order to be prepared for the growth that occurs in the spring.
Where do you need some “winter” in your days, weeks and months? What if you had a day each week of complete rest – no work, no errands, no shoulds or must dos, just time to restore and replenish? Add some winter into your life so you can be mentally and physically ready for the demands of your life. Find your “winter” pace and insert some pauses, breaks and stops in your days and nights and enjoy the rejuvenation that occurs.
In spring, all of the plants bud and sprout new growth.
Spring is the season of new, fresh starts. It is a season of new ideas. Spring is the time to spring clean your calendar and your commitments so there is space – mental and physical – for the birth of new ideas, projects and opportunities. The pace picks up in the spring. How could you incorporate “spring” into your days, weeks and months? Are there old commitments, file folders and time expenditures that no longer serve you and are preventing the budding of new growth? Find your “spring” rhythm and clear out the old, move a little quicker and enjoy the growth of new ideas.
In summer, the natural world is in full bloom.
The days are long and warm. Summer is the time to move ahead with your new ideas. Summer is the time to water, cultivate and nurture your goals, desires and dreams. How could you incorporate “summer” into your days, weeks and months? What projects and goals can you take action on now? What relationships need a little watering and nurturing? Find your “summer” pace and take action, support your relationships and grow.
Fall is the time of harvest.
The days gradually become shorter and cooler. It is the time to reap what you have sown in the spring and grown in the summer. Fall is the time for the final push towards your sales goals, the celebration of the completed project and thanksgiving for all of the people in your life. How could you incorporate “fall” into your days, weeks and months? Are you on track to achieve your goals? If not, what do you need to start doing? Is there dedicated time to celebrate and give thanks for your professional accomplishments and relationships? Find your “fall” pace and reach the finish line; celebrate your accomplishments and give thanks.
Work?life balance does not exist. Balance is not the goal, nor the pathway to happiness. Today stop trying to achieve work?life balance. Find your own rhythm or pace that enables you to restore, create, grow and achieve without burnout, without decimating your health and without neglecting your personal life. Remember, nature is only in perfect balance twice a year.
Carson Tate is part coach, business consultant and professional organizer who is the founder and principal of Working Simply Inc.
Meet Carson Tate at Moms@Work!
She’ll be leading the breakout session “Work Simply. Live Fully” at the 17th Annual Moms@Work Conference, Friday, Sept. 26 at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Find out more.