There is no such thing as a Work-Life Balance!
We have constant streaming on TVs, Mobile devices, or laptops, from podcasts to shows to live videos. This is in response to our evolving need to have everything we want immediately. Think Apple TV and chrome cast, the ability to skip ads, and the satisfaction we get from that. The fact we have Netflix, so we no longer have to wait for a series on TV to play out we can watch it all in one go.
We literally do not have to wait for anything, and the technology markets have responded and keep evolving to our forever growing requests. Having access to such information all the time has led to a serious saturation and overload in our expectations. We are constantly ‘plugged in’ and being fed selected information from service providers, businesses, and social accounts not to mention friends and family of the perfect life, looks, career, and or business.
What this expectation of instant gratification and immediate access to buying and information at our fingertips shows us, is that the world is smaller and runs 24/7. So, there is literally no down time or shut off, and we are attracted to the concept of more.
We are not machines, we are not like computers, we actively need down time and an appreciation for patience and presence. Yet we are much more driven and led by the 24/7 nature of technology. A blessing and a hindrance to our personal expectations and limits. Which is why Mindfulness is so needed, and how it plays such an active role in managing our down time. We are having to be taught how to quieten the mind, slow ourselves and improve our emotional intelligence, to manage our growing attachment to technology.
What I have realised is that alongside this improvement in technology, society has developed alongside this technological evolution, the perceived holy grail and optimal state of being, that we all desire to achieve – the elusive Work Life Balance.
So, let me ask you, what does a work life balance mean to you? Sipping cocktails on a beach while staring at a device? Or leaving the responsibilities of your career or business at the office when you go home? Does it mean working consistently during the week and/or living for the weekend?
This is where the concept falls down, in my opinion. The social saturation we have these days through technology and its capabilities and advancements, has us buying into the fact that we can ‘have it all’. Yet, no one seems to take the time to define what ‘all’, or indeed a work life balance means to them, individually.
Due to the constant scrolling on devices and the imagery of what people choose to share through various platforms, we are led to believe that laptop lifestyles, freedompreneurs and exotic offices are the ultimate destination in happiness, and exist without stress, financial pressures, relationship gripes etc. Which are the norm of most people’s everyday life.
Personally, I do not believe in having a work life balance because every day’s expectations of ourselves and our desires for our lives can be different depending on our moods, our emotions, our experiences etc. Therefore, the definition of ‘balance’ is fluid. Yet thanks to social media we are trained to strive for the ‘work life balance’ which is somewhat unachievable.
I like to talk about the work life integration, and how every aspect of our lives contributes towards a fulfilling existence. So that your business, career or job contribute and integrate into your life to improve your existence and experience of living. The same with the word life, how do you choose to spend your time, your free time and how does this infuse and enhance your life?
Having a work life integration gets you to focus more realistically on how you integrate the two together to better support your vision of living a fulfilled and happy lifestyle. Needless to say, it takes more focus and attention to determine how that integration supports you best. But this way you get to decide, instead of being led to believe the elusive work life balance is out there waiting for you in your exotic office on a palm beach. Unless, of course, that is actually the dream, and you’re actively working towards it.
What I will say is that unplugging from technology enables us to clear our minds to identify what it is we are striving for in our everyday living and where that is leading us to, instead of getting lost in the technology vortex of scrolling and experiencing other perceptions of balance, integration or fulfilment. Let’s take all of that away and get back to creating our own. So that the advancements in technology support our lives and integrate into it as an aspect only to enhance our lifestyle choice, not to overtake it!
Three Mindful Approaches to Develop your Work Life Integration:
1. Analyse Your Time
Determine for yourself initially what proportion of your working week you deem as acceptable to be present with your work, mentally & physically. Then test that with your family.
We often spend time thinking about work even when we aren’t there, and that doesn’t scream of a conscious and controlled integration.
Consider what it looks like to have a healthy mental relationship with your work, and when you feel it can encroach on your free or personal time. Enjoying what you do and knowing how it contributes to you feeling purposeful is an important part of this process also.
Discuss your approaches to manage this with your nearest and dearest, having support and another perspective to get behind your goals and understand them truly helps in developing new sustainable habits and thought processes.
2. Create Transition Moments
Have you ever found yourself leaving work in a rush thinking about all the things you are pausing only to have to pick up again tomorrow? And, that impending doom feeling lingers into your home life for that evening or even the following morning? If the answer is yes then a transition moment might be just what you need.
Creating a mindfulness ritual to support you to consciously cut ties to the unfinished work and job so that you can go home looking forward to your evening. It might be that you write a to-do list for the following day to ensure nothing is forgotten.
You might create a gratitude list for all the ways you’re looking forward to enjoying your evening with your family when you get home.
You might spend 5 solid minutes centering yourself in your car before you drive home, managing your emotions, expectations and your need to have an enjoyable evening.
3. Create a daily ritual to connect you to your Why
Having a purpose bigger than ourselves helps us keep perspective, enables us to keep grounded and fulfil our need to contribute to a greater part of society. Every morning you can create a space to remind yourself what you are doing today and why, how does this make you feel and what qualities do you need to bring into your day to enjoy it and be your best self? In the evening, you can create a space to reflect on how you accomplished this vision for your day and how well you spent your time connected to your purpose.
If you need support in creating these rituals you can use my FREE Mindset Pathway and Planner to support you.