The work-life balance…it’s this thing we’re supposed to pursue…and if we don’t hit it, we’re not supposed to feel happy about ourselves.
That’s how it’s pitched, and for good reason. Spending too much time on your work doesn’t give you anytime to develop the important relationships in your life. Spending too much time on relationships and hobbies prevents you from doing the work that supports that lifestyle and impacts your audience.
I’m all for that, but not the way most people present the work-life balance. The common idea is that you are on a balance beam. Lean too much towards work or relationships and hobbies, and you’ll fall. You’re on this balance beam every day, so you need to spend close to equal time on your work and relationships and hobbies.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like tracking that every day. And I shouldn’t have to feel bad about myself if I do one more than the other two.
If you think about the work-life balance every day, it’s going to stress you out. You’ll be more attentive with your time. If you’re talking with family and friends, you’ll think about the work time you are falling behind on for that day. If you’re grinding and deep in the flow, you’ll cut that flow just because you need to spend more time on relationships for that day.
This common trap for the work-life balance takes a super short-term viewpoint without acknowledging that it’s possible to do all three evenly on each day.
The first half-marathon I ran was in the morning (many races start in the morning). For that day, I was focused on the half-marathon and doing well (I finished off with a 1:25:00 and 2nd place. To this day I’m very happy with that half-marathon but always looking for more).
So, for the rest of the day, after completing a half marathon, did I spend time working to catch up with the hours I just spent running the half-marathon. Did I set a timer to ensure I was working for 1:25:00 and then spending time with the people I care about for 1:25:00?
Of course not. I was horizontal for most of the day after that half-marathon. Walking up the stairs after that half-marathon was challenging enough.
No one has a daily work-life balance, and this is the big trap we fall into. Having that short-term focus.
The solution to work-life balance is to have a long-term view which averages out to your ideal lifestyle. I’ve had some days where I don’t spend as much time with my family. I love my family, but on some days, I’m interviewing 10 people for my podcasts and virtual summits. On other days, I’m working on my upcoming book, training course, and other content for my audience.
But then there’s vacations which last anywhere from 1-2 weeks. During vacations, I do virtually no work. The majority of my work time is just responding to emails so there aren’t too many waiting for me. And that takes maybe 15 minutes of my time each day.
No podcast interviews. No training courses. No nada.
When I’m on vacation, it means I’m doing very little work for my business. And when I come back from that vacation, I’m fired up to grind and grow my business. But during the vacation, I’m spending time with my family.
That’s the more realistic version of the work-life balance that will make you feel happier about yourself. Instead of judging yourself one day at a time, look at entire months and end results.
Some people think they spend a lot of time building their relationships. But if that’s just them being physically present but mentally absent, that’s not building the relationship.
The work-life balance is a great concept that emphasizes an important truth. Work and play are important, but too much of one creates a bad mix.
However, you’ll fall into a trap of feeling like you’re not doing everything right if you judge your work-life balance performance day by day.
Reassessing this balance each month gives you a better picture and accounts for days when you need to do all-in on your work and days when you’re on vacation mode.
What are your thoughts on the work-life balance? Do you have any questions for me? Sound off in the comments below.