If you are a conscientious, accountable leader, it can be hard to find work-life balance. When you feel directly responsible for someone’s livelihood, it can feel selfish to take time for yourself. You can end up pulled in many directions – from the people who depend on you at work and the people who depend on you at home.
So how do you take care of yourself in the midst of all the demands?
- Come up with a new goal. Work-life balance is actually an odd aspiration for a successful life. Think of learning to ride a bike. You work hard at not falling. It takes an enormous effort and energy. The goal in learning to ride a bicycle is to eventually get past balance to flow. Once you get it, it’s not about balance, it’s about enjoying the journey and getting to your destination. Instead of thinking of work-life balance, consider changing the goal to flow and integration.
- With the goal of integration, identify your core values – the areas in your life that require your attention. Then sit down with the people in your life who depend on you and upon whom you depend and have a conversation about key accountabilities that need to be integrated into your life. Establish clear expectations of need and availability. Delegate and negotiate for resources and allow for possible emergency escalations. Like riding a bike through difficult terrain, you have to be prepared to ride the flow imperfectly. The goal is that during the course of an upcoming year, all important areas in your life get attended to.
- Discover your passion. Too often, in the words of Gary Porter, “I hear people vacillating over their work/life balance, which to me just means that they have not found their passion; that which makes them come alive. Too often, those people… spend their life struggling to attain the satisfaction that working with your passion can bring. When you find your passion and go ‘all in,’ your passion consumes you and resides within your work, home and play spaces…” When you find your passion – either in your personal life or in your work life – and find a way to immerse yourself in it, life becomes fulfilling, with the rewards in the journey, not the destination.
We can’t always do only what we love. But we can always find the love in what we do.
And “work/life balance” will be irrelevant as you begin living an integrated life in the flow.