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  • Writer's pictureLarry Williamson

Life Balance 101 - Make it Simple

Google the subject of Life Balance and you will find no shortage of knowledgeable professionals eagerly sharing their philosophy on the subject. To the average person (if there is such a thing) seeking help on what to do with the sometimes overwhelming issues of their daily lives, the amount of information available can be overwhelming, if not confusing at the very least.

When searching for support via the internet, a person may start by typing in a topic name. That should be simple enough. In going through the many informative articles I see among other titles, the following;

  • Work/Life Balance

  • Work/Life Integration

  • Work/Life Blending

  • Work/Life Flexibility

I read statements like, "Work-life balance is dead", "gone is the notion of balance", or "the new phrase, work life integration". I'll admit it, I'm confused.

For the benefit of all, is it time to simplify this?

I am reminded of something I heard a long time ago: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck!

I am not out to question or to change another author's opinion. Each offers their own perspective and none of them are wrong. I ask the simple question, Isn't it all basically the same thing? Reading the many articles it is not difficult for me to draw that conclusion.

Years of working with hundreds of clients has led me to believe that we as human beings have a tendency to complicate things far more than they ever need to be. Do we run the risk of doing that here, if we have not already? Changing the name does not change the concept, it does not make the challenge any less difficult.

What is balance?

Looking at three different dictionaries I am provided many definitions. Some of the ones that seem to best fit the concept of life balance:

  • to bring in to harmony or proportion

  • harmonious arrangement or adjustment

  • mental steadiness; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.

  • an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements

Not one of these definitions talks about one side competing with the other (e.g. work Vs. life), or each side being of equal weight.

Obviously I left out the references to the instrument for weighing (scales) or concepts of equaling out by having the same amount of weight on one side as the other. I don't really believe that applies to what we are talking about with Life Balance. I also think this is what causes much of the confusion in our discussions.

Discussing this topic the other evening with my daughter, she used the term "harmonious blending of life elements". Straight forward and simple, I like it!

Balance is unique. It means different things to different people, and it may change with the same person during different stages of their life..

If you wake up in the middle of the night to work because that is your creative time, then maybe that is part of your balance. I have always heard that you need eight hours of sleep. For me, I sleep on average from four to six hours a night - frequently leaning to the four. It is something I have always done. My wife on the other hand needs her full eight hours. Is one right and one wrong? Because we differ, does that mean one of us is out of balance? No.

Age of a new norm...

Change is a part of who we are. How we look at balance changes from one generation to the next. Balance to a Baby Boomer is going to look a lot different than it does to a Millennial. We can no longer define balance the was we used to. When Millennials express a desire for balance, it does not necessarily mean they want to work less, they just want more flexibility.

Perceived Challenges to Life Balance:

  • Constantly connected. We carry electronic devices with us all the time. We many not create the opportunity to disconnect, to unplug, to shut down.

  • More and more people are working from home or alternative locations - the lines get blurred and it gets more and more difficult to separate work and life.

  • The fact that work and other aspects of our life sometimes conflict is nothing new. It will likely always be that way. If you are new to the work force and this bothers you, maybe it is something you need to get used to.

I have read where:

  • 61 % of employees are willing to work during vacation

  • 98% of executives check email during their off time

  • 63% of executives check every one to two hours during their off time

When I read this I wonder how much of it is simply due to the fact that this is what we have created, and what we have gotten used to. In other words, how much of this is by personal choice? Does this, in and of itself mean someone is out of balance? That depends.

The main question I use when helping someone determine if they are out of balance is this:

Is there any particular area of your life that you invest so much of your time and energy to that it has a negative (even devastating) effect on other areas of your life on a consistent basis?

If the answer is yes, then you have some opportunities you might need to address. Any of us are capable, and most of us do from time to time get away from this harmonious blending of life elements. That's just the way it is. Some get out of balance on a short term or temporary basis. Others become so singularly focused on one aspect of their life that other areas fall apart around them without them even realizing or understanding what is happening or why.

The good news is with the right tools and the proper support we can all get back in balance if we choose to do so.

At Anchored Values this is one of the things we do well. We support you through this process as you create your new balance and with it, the fulfilling and satisfying life you always knew you could have. Do you know that one of the biggest obstacles to our success and happiness is when our behaviors are not in alignment with our internal values.

In summary we help you:

  • Get clear on your internal values, your passion, and what it is you are after. In other words, the things most important to you.

  • Identify and rate the various aspects of your life in terms of overall balance.

  • Get clear on what your current life looks like. Get clear on the life you desire, and the difference between the two.

  • Together we will discover the personal habits, attitudes and believes that are holding you back from moving forward, and

  • We support you as you move forward in creating the life you have always known you could have.

Successful people have a tendency to successfully balance the various aspects of their life, and the balance is going to look differently from one successful person to another.

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