I'm on a train. It's Wednesday morning and I'm heading into London with hubby for a free lunch. Genuinely free – it’s a voucher we received as a Christmas pressie.
Flexibility and freedom were two key drivers for me in making the leap from corporate life. I'd watch with envy, Rob's ability to balance work and play, in what seemed such an unorthodox way. Lunch out on a Wednesday, for example, still feels a bit wrong, a bit naughty; but it's exactly this new order that I knew I wanted in on.
I appreciate I went for the no holds barred approach to work life balance, and let me now assure you there are of course trade-offs. However, we don't all need to go radical to decide to find a place that is better balanced for us. Work life balance. A common agenda topic in coaching, and not only from the workaholics. Sometimes we can all get a little off course and find ourselves out of whack with how we wanted things to be.
One of the complexities of finding balance is that there is no one solution. Balance for me will be unique to me and be something completely different to the next person. So, creating balance becomes something of a personal voyage of discovery, and the success of it - the point at which we feel we have landed in the sweet spot - can only be judged by ourselves.
For myself, as with so many things it's a living process. I find myself continually adjusting and tweaking. Too much of either side - the work (too salty) or the rest and play (too sweet) and the balance is off. The quest is always on to find and then keep the perfect porridge in front of me.
Saying ‘I want more balance’ is easy and interestingly it's something we feel perhaps we should be saying. Understanding, and then acting, is harder. The following five step process was something I read in the Harvard Business Review. I've taken that and created some self-coaching questions in order that you can guide yourself through a journey of understanding and then, if you choose and commit, action.
I've spoken before about my conviction in writing something down or saying it out loud, as opposed to thinking it inwardly. So, I would again encourage you in this.
Where am I now? What and who do I prioritise / sacrifice? For what do I make space?
What feelings are most present? In which emotions do I spend a lot of time?
What will I prioritise? What will I let go of? What would make life more fun?
What does good look like for me? What does great look like?
What one step can I take today towards great? What mindset do I choose to be in as I try this?
I’ve written before about seeking to implement big change, versus small consistent changes in my blog about New Year's resolutions. We are more likely to succeed in the long run, i.e., establish enduring change, when we seek to change incrementally. That's not to say a huge leap won't stick, it's just harder to keep the momentum and motivation. Softly, softly catchy monkey. So, in our journey to balance, it similarly makes sense to make small, determined, and regular steps. Embrace the experimental and playful mindset. Do try new things and new ways, don't be shy about dumping that that doesn't work out for you. Changing your mind - including about what balance fundamentally looks like for you, is your prerogative.
As you create some ideas and strategies to play with, here additionally are my top three tips on how we can help ourselves along the way:
Give perfectionism the push. Aim for realistic. Good enough. Excellent if you must. Perfectionism will only seek to thwart you.
Identify the time wasters. That's activities and people that suck your energy and bring little of the positive to the party. Start to steadily eliminate them from your schedules and your life. Tough love - but really how are they enhancing you?
Unplug. I hear all the excuses about this one. How needed you are. How important you are. What's expected of you. Blah. Sorry (not sorry) to be the one to say - no you just aren't that vital. Being constantly accessible - especially to work- but also on a personal level, will cause unnecessary stress. Boundaries. Make them. Balance is a pink Unicorn until you do.
My final thoughts are on comparison. It feels easier to see what someone else has and does and either feel envious or judgmental about it. Or believe that it's the answer. It would be more beneficial to truly reflect on what right looks like for us personally. Comparison will also hold us in the stuck place. Be your own inventor - design what balance looks and feels like for you, in this moment. You can redesign it every day if the mood takes you. Balance is a state of mind, not another new set of rules and schedules you must adhere to.
How to work with me:
If I’ve piqued your curiosity, I offer a free 30-minute call. You can book that directly in my diary here. I don’t do hassle, I can’t bear it when people try it with me, so of course you get to mull it over and a no thanks from you is final, I promise. And for those that like the detail (I’m one of those), have a look at my website, where I aim to provide complete transparency on what to expect – and that includes pricing.
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I work with individuals, teams and organisations, helping them become more self-aware so that they can appreciate choice and make decisions to change with confidence.
My one-to-one clients have a corporate career which, often, is not currently satisfying them. They often don’t know why, because it used to, or because it looks great on the surface. I help them figure out what’s getting in their way and where they want to go next.
My organisational clients are seeking support via coaching, workshops and webinars with leadership development, confidence in business and wellbeing. See what’s available.