The Good Work Book Blog
Is work/life balance really possible?
Most people would agree that work/life balance is important for a person's well-being, and also that it is often very difficult to achieve. Some go so far as to say that it is impossible, and so don't even go there.
In the bad old days, before I had even heard of the term work/life balance, my own balance was woeful. I had a reasonable income and mental stimulation in my job but little else. The various jobs I did were so demanding that when I had time for ‘life’ I had no energy left over for it. Life for me was the 2 hours each day that I spent alone on car-choked roads between work and home. For me, work/life balance was an impossibility. And for many it remains so.
In The Good Work Book, we discuss the work/life problem from an alternative perspective. We do not see balance in one’s life as a simple equation of how much time you spend on the job and off it. Rather it is whether or not you use all your time in a way that naturally balances the requirement to earn a living with the other essential human needs: rewarding relationships, leisure activities, bodily health and spiritual nourishment.
I have found in the years that I have been learning to create true balance that the more a job supports these non-financial needs, the less likely it is I run out of energy at the end of the day. In short, balance helps the whole self to reenergize as the different aspects of it are given their times for rest and nourishment. Free time can then become real fun time.
The question, then, is to what extent does your particular job support this kind of whole self balance
Each form of work varies in its inherent ability to support the different needs. Some work naturally supports enjoyable relationships, whereas in other jobs the relationship connection is akin to an automated telephone service. Artists have plenty of time and opportunity for spiritual expression and partying with their friends, but usually their income verges on the poverty line.
This means that in looking at making work/life balance feasible, the first thing to do is to honestly check the degree to which your regular work allows for each of your needs to be met. You may well find it is not as bad as you tend to think it is. Some of my clients who complain about their actual work because it is repetitive or tedious still find their employment rewarding because they value their friendships there. To have their need for meaningful (spiritually fulfilling) work met, they might best invest leisure time in a productive hobby where their passions are given rein.
Once you have the realities of your job’s natural balance clear in your mind, you can turn your attention to exactly how you could achieve greater life satisfaction either by make alterations to the current job or by looking for the unmet needs outside of it.
However, the immediate problem with this advice is that you will need to give yourself time to make this review, and then to commit to making changes if they are necessary. Those who have a reluctance to seriously consider making changes can use the visualization, Releasing Fear of Change, in The Good Work Book ( Page 87). I love that visual for any time that I know I need to make a change but somehow can’t get round to it. It dissolves hidden anxieties about doing things differently, or when having change is suddenly thrust upon you.