The Honest Truth About Work / Life Balance
Balance requires that you perpetually be in motion – adjusting to keep from toppling over!
Being Grammy is amazing! I get to enjoy the aspects of being a mom that I loved so much without sacrificing my sleep, sporting snot and spit up on my shoulder, or being late because of an unexpected explosion. Next year, we will welcome grand #6 and I can’t wait! It’s such fun to watch as each one’s personality unfolds!
Even though I know when a baby starts walking that life gets more challenging, watching a baby navigate their first steps is exciting! It takes balance, strength, and flexibility to walk – skills we take for granted as adults until we attempt yoga poses like Tree Pose or Warrior III. Successfully balancing also takes lots of practice! It’s a given that when learning to walk a baby will inevitably lose their balance and tumble.
Work / Life Balance
You’ve mastered walking as an adult, but perhaps you are a little wobbly when it comes to balancing life and work. Recognize any of these signs?
- Rarely present
- Feeling burned out, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or tired
- Doing urgent tasks rather than what’s most important
- Lacking boundaries and spreading yourself too thin
- Finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning
- Rarely spending time with family and friends
- Unsure when you last exercised
- Eating too many unhealthy foods
- Foggy on what you actually enjoy doing
- Living in a vacation free zone
- A slave to your “to-do” list – it’s never ending!
- Experiencing insomnia or poor sleep
- Always busy but not accomplishing much
- Just going through the motions
- Finding it hard to return phone calls or emails
- Surrounded by clutter at work and/or at home
- Experiencing health issues
- Unable to find the time to do what you love
- Lacking joy
Navigating life and work successfully is a learning process, just like learning to walk is. And balancing life and work successfully takes practice. What’s tricky is you have to make those changes while life is in motion because life doesn’t stop!
Each season of life has its own priorities, and as a result, balance looks different in each season. What worked for me when my kids were small wouldn’t serve me in my current Grammy-stage of life. And how I balance this season may not be the best way for you to balance the same season. In order to find your rhythm and balance in life, it’s essential to:
1. Know What Balance Looks Like
Achieving the ideal work life balance for YOU is not easy if you don’t know what you are shooting for! Take time to visualize what your ideal rhythm would be.
Journal your thoughts. Be realistic about the season you are in right now. Resist the temptation to adopt what is balance for someone else – know what balance is for YOU. Then take intentional steps towards your ideal work/life balance.
2. Strengthen Your Core
You might not notice your core at work when walking, but it is! I dare you to tighten your stomach as you walk and you will see what I mean.
While other exercises may utilize your core more, having strong core muscles makes just about everything you do easier! By now, you’ve probably noticed that your core takes time and effort plus targeted exercises like sit ups, standing ab work, planks, etc., in order to get stronger.
So, how do you strengthen your “life core?” By investing in your relationship with God – making that your highest priority. Even a few moments in His presence will help set your heart and mind in a way that changes the course of your day. And starting the day with Him demonstrates that you trust Him; that what needs to get done today will get done. Notice I said needs, not wants!
Time is limited. Choosing to carve out time in your day to connect with God may mean that you have to make some hard choices and eliminate some tasks or responsibilities in order to create space in your day for Him.
3. Strengthen Your Muscles
Tummy time strengthens a baby’s core and the kicking and swatting they do on their back strengthens their muscles in preparation for walking. If you want to experience the joy of life/work balance there are a few muscles you will need to strengthen as well – muscles like…
Back when I was in college, I was one of the few women who visited the weight room on campus. Weights were a consistent part of my workout regimen. It often amused me that some of the guys that sported the biggest guns had puny legs, making them look out of proportion. Their focus was clearly their upper body! Biceps and triceps aren’t the only muscles that need to be worked. You have quads, calves, and glutes, not to mention a whole bunch of smaller stabilizing muscles. Those stabilizing muscles play a huge part in balance!
What are the areas listed above that you might be neglecting?
4. Improve Your Flexibility
All the kicking and swatting babies do on their backs also improves their flexibility and prepares them to walk. It’s been a long time since I have been flexible enough to put my toes in my mouth, and those embarrassing foot in mouth moments don’t count!
Flexibility improves when you consistently stretch. Stretching in life and work is about…
- Stepping out of your comfort zone
- Trying new things
- Taking risks
- Being willing to accept what comes your way even if it doesn’t make sense rather than wasting energy fighting it
- Learning and growing – finding better ways to do what you do
- Becoming more comfortable with change
- Clarifying what success looks like for you
- Taking a Sabbath – resting
- Choosing to operate out of your priorities each day
- Facing your fears
Out of balance is a very busy and unhappy place. You’ll never get to what’s really fulfilling and important if you let fear keep you in perpetually busy!
Which of the four areas above do you need to focus on? so that you can approach life from an integrated place that allows you to make the necessary adjustments to maintain balance.
Remember, perfect balance is as elusive as being perfect is. The quicker you are able to find a pleasant and sustainable rhythm life will change and you’ll have to discover what balance looks like all over again. Finding balance is not a once and done task, it’s an ongoing process. However, with practice, you’ll able to spot what needs adjusting quicker and return to a stable work/life place with less effort.
What would create more balance in your life and work?