The Myth of the Work-Life Balance (or Why I Embrace my Blended Life)

(This post is based on advice shared with Robin Madell for the article she wrote for U.S. News and World Report: "Should We Rethink the Concept of Work-Life Balance?")

As a leadership coach and career advisor I work with clients to create the lives they dream of....what float's their boat...what makes them happy. And their dreams are BIG and BRAVE. But as we strategize to make their dreams a reality they've told me time and again that the work-life balance concept seems like a flawed fantasy.

The idea of a perfect balance sets us up to strive for an unattainable life.  Embracing it, for some, is like listening to your inner perfectionist. The voice that tells you your best is never good enough and sets you up to fail. Instead, I prefer to think of it as a work- life blend because really your balancing act is different every day, right? And possibly your ideal balance isn't achievable with your career and lifestyle. (And that is a harsh reality for some). If you find yourself in that situation but don't want to or can't change your career or lifestyle it is more about blending them to get the most out of both. Each of us has a unique life. Unfortunately, we weren't born with a users manual telling us how to squeeze every drop out of our life-  while simultaneously maintaining a maximum level of happiness. If only.

People are stressed out and stretched thin day after day. This world we live in can be exhausting- if we let it! Often our lives don't provide the energy (and ambition) we needed to take control of our most precious resource: time.  Having a balanced life has turned into a luxury item we lust after. Too many people believe it to be just out of their grasps. Time is the number one reason people provide when asked why they can't do what they want to do. But each and every day of our lives we are given a gift of 24 hours.

Much of a perceived lack of time is because people are not being productive; they aren't focusing on what they want most out of life.  Let's be real, we can't have it all so if your life lacks focus you aren't going to have those things you long for the most. But you can have the life you want when you acknowledge you have to give some things up to get what you need.

For example, someone might say that after a long, stressful day they don't have time to exercise. If you question them about how they spend their evening, a lot of people will admit to using screen time in an attempt to relax. If you add that time up, day after day, week after week it is a significant percentage of your free time. 

Instead of being on social media every night you could go for a power walk or head to the gym for an hour every other night. Exercise is a great way to de-stress and relax. It's what you need. It gives you more energy and that will help you power through your workday. Bring a family member or friend along to get a double boost.

Q. How can you create a work-life blend?

A. By accepting where you are in life.  Be very specific about your nonnegotiables (the values you hold most dear) and the direction they are pointing you.  Try your best every day and don't compare your best to someone else's best.

In accepting where you are and influencing those things that you have control over you will be content - a life in stark contrast to those who are constantly struggling to find balance on the seesaw of life.

How do you live a blended life? 

When your head hits the pillow, what makes you feel that you have successfully lived another day?

Please share a comment or ask questions below. I'd love to hear from you!

Posted on December 9, 2014 and filed under Stress, Work-Life Blend, Values.