Work/life balance is such a hotly debated topic with strong opinions on both sides of whether it is attainable or even should be a goal. At times in my life, I’ve thought it was a must and at others a myth.
I’m curious what you believe after you read my journey and take a fresh look at yours.
When I look back over my life I see the ebb and flow of the imbalance, I also see why sometimes imbalance is more balanced in terms of what you hold as the vision for your life at that time.
So I decided to look back at some of what I’ve written before and how work/life balance has played out through the last 4 decades of my life. What I found is that there are many aspects to work/life balance that shift back and forth as we grow and change.
You can read these 3 articles yourself and see if you agree or disagree.
When I read these articles again, what I found was they all addressed different aspects of this conversation, but not exactly what I wanted to talk about here.
Some people embrace the idea of work/life balance, some think it’s ridiculous, and some think it’s like a unicorn in that it would be nice to have, but it doesn’t really exist.
Millennials and Work/Life Balance (What Your Kids Believe)
I have a friend that works with millennials and they have a big interest in a lot of the principles of having an ageless lifestyle.
Many millennials are not at all interested in the idea of sacrificing their lives for 40 years on a job, just to be able to retire and have a life after 65.
The discussion of work/life balance just keeps coming up, and I see so many young men making this a priority.
I don’t think people really have an issue with the concept, it’s the term they have a knee-jerk reaction to because of the meaning they’ve given it.
I love seeing so many millennials being entrepreneurs and starting their own business or going full-time in network marketing companies and rocking it.
One aspect of how they are achieving their own version of work/life balance is by being digital nomads or expats at a very young age, rather than waiting 30 or 40 years to exit a job that doesn’t fulfill them.
This is very close to my heart, having been an expat in my 30’s and how I’ve chosen to live my life.
Did we teach them that by being a positive example?
Did they watch their parents go for their dreams or did they see an example of unhappy people trapped in a life they don’t want for themselves?
Work/Life Balance Is a Myth
I believe the idea of balance is not ideal and shouldn’t be what anyone is striving for.
I didn’t always believe that. When I was in my early 20’s, I read self-help books that taught the ultimate goal was to be in balance.
Balance was defined as exactly what you would think, all areas of your life equal, operating at a 10 out of 10. I felt bad I had no interest in being involved in my community or a religion because then I couldn’t be in balance.
There were tests you could take to see how well you were doing and graphs to pinpoint where you were at in each area of your life.
As a sales trainer back then, I actually taught this to sales people I trained.
That sounds pretty silly now, doesn’t it?
When I think back on how judgmental that was and how it really made people feel bad about themselves, it makes me cringe. The whole idea was that it was a tool for helping you achieve the nirvana of balance.
That was work/life balance as I learned it 40 years ago. If that’s still what the term means to you, no wonder you don’t think balance is possible or should be pursued.
The Reality of Personal Work/Life Balance
As I got closer to 30 I realized my personal version of balance was spending more time doing things that made me happy and less time working. That meant I had to make more money in less time so I could have more free time. So that’s what I did.
I’d work a couple years and then when I got bored or needed a new challenge, I’d take 6 months, a year or 2 off. People thought it was weird, but that’s how I chose to live.
I realize this is not the way most people look at employment, but I was never normal. I always believed I could create my own reality, so I did. And so can you if you take on this belief.
I spent more time on my hobbies of photography, cooking, reading, working on my black belt in shopping and world travel. And moving. I lived in several different resort areas in the U.S. before leaving the country.
I didn’t mind having to take a test to get a new real estate license each time I went to a new state. That was just a small price for the kind of freedom I chose to have.
Reading personal and spiritual growth books and listening to Nightengale-Conant tapes morning noon and night could almost have been considered my full-time job. Growing as a person was my number one priority.
And Yet I Was Still Out of Balance…Always
In my mid-30’s I moved to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and only worked mornings so I had more time to do other things. You’d think my work/life balance would have been a no-brainer, right?
Nope. I had no balance because all of my friends and my husband were in the same business I was. Many of them worked at the same resort.
I had a rule with my husband that there was no talking about work when we sat down to dinner. That all went out the window as soon as we were around other people because that’s all they wanted to talk about. DIt didn’t matter if we were at the beach, on the golf course or out at night.
For my sanity, I decided to grow my social circle by making friends outside the resort industry. I joined a spiritual growth group and started getting involved with charities in town. Ironically, the 2 things I wasn’t interested in a decade earlier. See, we do grow and change!
That worked. I was a happier, less stressed person.
Did I have balance in all areas of my life? No. I had a personal balance of specific areas that were important to me to the degree I wanted to have them.
And that is still what I strive for today.
You know what they say about the best-laid plans.
Balance When You Are Living Your Passion
In my 40’s I moved back tot he U.S. and became an entrepreneur. I was madly in love with all the new things I was learning about being an author, speaker and creating and teaching programs.
I wrote sales letters for my programs and seminars while I was on vacation.
I wrote my weekly ezine every week, no matter where in the world I was.
I was completely obsessed with everything about being an information marketer and working on the internet. No balance there at all, except for the fact that I still was vacationing 10-12 weeks a year. Even though I was working while I traveled.
Was I in balance? I was about as far out of balance as you can get, and I was very happy. So again, I was in complete personal balance for what I wanted to be doing and who I wanted to be at that point in my life.
I stopped cooking because I would rather work, I stopped doing everything except shopping. And as I shopped with my event planner, who was like a sister to me, we were always talking about work.
Oh well, still no balance.
How could I be so happy when my life was so out of balance?
Does that Mean Work/Life Balance Isn’t a Must?
It’s a blurry line, isn’t it?
Then my life took a 180-degree turn again and in my mid 50’s I moved back to Cabo. My work/life balance also changed completely again.
And so it goes as you grow and change throughout your life.
When you look at the different stages of my life, I hope you are also looking back at yours.
From the outside, there were times that appeared to be in balance and weren’t and times that looked like they were all out of wack when I was completely happy and at peace with the content of my life.
So does it really come down to how you define balance?
I define it as doing what I want, when I want, with who I want, how I want, for as long as I want. *With the option to shift at any moment.
That is also pretty much the definition people use for financial freedom. Interesting, because money has never played a defining part in what I see as balance. Money to me is simply a piece of the equation and not a very big factor to me. I’ve lived my life with a lot of money and no money. There’s always a way. 😉
When you are living your passion and purpose and it’s also your business, that balance line can get blurry real fast.
The key for me is whether you’re making those divisions of time and attention because you feel like you have to or because it makes you so happy it’s your favorite way to spend time.
The programs I’ve created in my business are tools that allow you to create your own version of balance. First by getting clear on who you really are and what is important to you and then creating a vision and a blueprint for the ageless life and business you choose to have.
That may be why I feel so happy when it would appear I’m the most out of balance. What I’m doing is expressing the core of who I really am and using it to help others have the life they want to have.
Until next time, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just comment on this post here or on Facebook.
If you would like private mentoring, go to the contact page above and tell me what you would like help with. As your mentor, whether for your health, your lifestyle or your business, I hold a bigger vision for you than you hold for yourself. When you have faith and a team that believes in you, it gives you courage. When you don’t have to do it all yourself, all things are possible for you. Commit today to go for your dream 100%.
With over 40 years in sales and marketing, along with 45 years studying human behavior, Lynn Pierce, “The Voice of Women Empowered to Create an Ageless Body, Mind & Soul After 50” mentors soul-based entrepreneurs to reach your own personal version of success and an ageless lifestyle. Tell Lynn what the life of your dreams looks like, and she’ll create the blueprints to get you there, along with the sales system to fund it. Lynn is the author of, “Breakthrough to Success; 19 Keys to Mastering Every Area of Your Life”. Claim your free special report, “What Do You Stand For” here