Two Secrets to The Perfect Work/Life Balance
November 8, 2017
When I first put together The 14 Day Guide to Cutting Your Working Hours and Increasing Your Impact it was a direct response to my OWN issues and problems in running a business and balancing my lifestyle.
That was almost three years ago now and although the book has helped thousands of people like you and me to improve their lives in business, every day I have discussions with entrepreneurs, founders and creators who are still really struggling with the idea that they can't find a way to keep the scales in balance.
Since writing the book I've distilled the concept of work/life balance into two specific notions that I believe hold the key to finding the solution for yourself.
Here they are:
- You must give yourself permission to not feel guilty when NOT working; and
- You must understand that the work/life balance simply does not exist. Rather, we must all strive to achieve work/life harmony.
What's the difference between “work/life balance” and “work/life” harmony?
Simply put, it is the permission that I mention above.
Permission to work when you need to, and permission to enjoy your time NOT working when you don't need to.
Sounds simple, right?
If only it was.
You see as someone with a propensity to create things – products, services, businesses – you and I both struggle to see the difference between work and hobbies.
Well, we love what we do. And that's amazing. But it doesn't mean that we must force ourselves into doing it 24/7.
It doesn't help that as an early-stage entrepreneur, you're taught almost daily that if you're not constantly “hustling”, then you must be doing something wrong.
If you aren't Tweeting or adding to your Snapchat story about how long you're working or how late you finish, then how can you possibly give a crap about your business?
Welcome to the two hidden vanity “metrics” that “entrepreneurs” like to throw about.
Because of these immeasurable “metrics”, we condition ourselves to be “always on”.
The problem with that, of course, is that by being “always on”, we're never truly turned “off”.
I speak a lot about changing the channel in your brain, particularly when it comes to resting – each of us must have something that allows us to change the brain channel from work to not work so that we can give ourselves the chance to recharge the old batteries.
My channel changer is either picking up the acoustic and playing some old rock song or reading some DC Comics goodness.
And it works.
But you know, even with a channel switcher; even with an activity that physically moves you from work mode to non-work mode, we still struggle with permission – we still feel guilty because we feel like we should be “working”.
And we do this even despite knowing that if we were to go back to work, we'd be terribly unproductive and just really be there to quell the guilt that we've let built up inside of us.
And it comes back to giving ourselves the permission to fully be where we need to be when we need to be there.
How many times do you truly turn off? How often are you truly present when you aren't working?
I'll be honest, it's something that I still struggle with and I know I'm not alone in that.
But why do we struggle? Why do we find it so hard to give ourselves the permission that we need to remove the guilt that we feel when we aren't working?
Well, I believe that the true issue lies in the pursuit of that work/life balance.
The word “balance” implies that both “sides” of our lives are equally off-set against each other, taking up the same amount of time and importance and that each “side” of our lives must somehow always have parity or else one or the other must suffer.
The reality is that they will never be truly balanced.
Because family and people always come before work.
That's a simple fact of life and none of us should forget that.
Yet again, it is just not that simple.
Because frankly, sometimes we're called to make judgements on trading our family time for our work time, particularly when the work time demands it or else it will cause significant issues in the working life.
The key to finally giving yourself the permission to lead a guilt free life lies in realising that both “sides” of your life – personal and work – will demand different things of you at different times.
At times, work will demand that you focus on that much more than you'd like; at other times, less so. And at times, unexpected family situations crop up and work becomes a mere after-thought when contextualised against what really matters.
How can we possibly be expected to achieve a “balance” when one side of our lives will always pull stronger than the other.
It's about understanding which “side” is pulling, and when. Where do you focus your attention at that time?
This is work/life harmony: the idea that one side of your life doesn't suffer just because the other side of your life requires a little more attention.
By working on shifting our mindset towards that outlook, we stand a much better chance of granting ourselves not only the permission that we need to take some real time off and to be truly present when we do, we also grant ourselves the permission that we need to work guilt free when we need to, too.
Work/life balance isn't a destination and if you constantly try to find it, you stand every chance of getting one “side” wrong.
Work/life harmony, though, is a mindset and an agreement that you can make with yourself to be truly present where you really need to be at that exact moment.
It's ok to let yourself focus where you need to focus at any given time.
There's no honour in forcing yourself to be “productive” when you simply don't need to be so stop beating yourself up about taking the time that you need and start giving yourself the permission to really enjoy the time that you have when you have it.
Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!