Work-life balance is a myth. Yet there are so many podcasts and books out there about how to balance work and life so that you never feel overwhelmed or guilty.
But not because it’s impossible to balance, but because I don’t believe they should be in opposition to each other.
The phrase “work-life balance” implies these two things are sitting on opposite sides of a scale. And in order to be happy, you have to figure out how to keep these two things balanced every minute of every day. When the scales slightly tip one way or the other, you feel guilt, shame, and a sense of failure.
I spent years in this trap. Every time I had to cancel on a friend because I had to spend the night choreographing, or every time I had to tell my husband I wouldn’t be home in time for dinner because practice had to go late… I felt guilty. I felt ashamed of my work as a coach because it was taking away from other things that I love.
But why do we feel shame for doing something that makes us happy?
Especially when I became a mom, the shame and guilt were pretty strong. How can I go enjoy 4 days at camp and not see my toddler for a few days? What kind of mother am I?!? And when I’m at camp, I definitely can’t be enjoying myself and having fun with my team. I should be missing my little one at home.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve this mythical balance, and when we can’t do it (because no one can) we feel like a failure. “I should be able to do this. Other people have figured this out, what is wrong with me?”
Here’s my opinion: it’s not about work-life balance, but WORK-LIFE BLEND. Your work is a part of your life! They are not sitting on opposite sides of the scale. Just because you feel good about what you’re putting into one area of your life does not mean the other areas are being neglected.
Whatever you define as your work, be it a traditional day job, coaching, stay-at-home-mom life, etc. that work is not in opposition to your “life.”
What counts as “life” anyway?
What goes in that category anyway? Self-care, time with friends, social time with family. I believe my “work” includes my work in the home, and my “life” includes my passion for dance. It’s a blend. What I do at work is a big part of my life. It’s who I am and it doesn’t take away from how I experience my life. It is a part of my life.
How to achieve a sense of balance
Ok, that little rant out of the way, there is still a real struggle to feel balanced with how we spend our time. But rather than thinking about work and life as separate things, consider all of the different areas. What are all of the different categories that make up your life and take up your time? Here’s mine in no particular order (because there shouldn’t be an order… get it?): Self-care, Mom life, Husband, Professor, Entrepreneur, Social/Friend time. Now rather than feeling guilty if I need to spend a little more time as an entrepreneur this week because I’m traveling to two different workshops, I can embrace it. I know that it’s part of the balance and when I’m home, I’ll add some extra mom time, a date with my husband, and make sure I call my best friend just to talk for a while.
Yes, time spent in one area of your life is time away from another. But they are all parts of your life, and trying to battle for a perfect % balance is impossible, stressful, and doesn’t do you any good.
Instead, here’s how I have come to peace with my own work-life blend and feel no more shame about how I spend my time.
My Work-Life Blend
I’m a big fan of a physical planner, but you can do this however you want to do it. When I put things in my planner (and I put EVERYTHING in there), it gets a color code based on the categories above. Then every month, I visually stop and take stock in what that month looked like.
If there is a whole week with no blue (social/friend time) then I make a point to text a friend and set up a date for the next week. If there is a week with a lot of
Perfection is not an option
But here’s the important part. There is no perfect balance to be achieved. It’s an ever evolving process, and what matters is that I check up on it and pay attention weekly and monthly. Sometimes there will be a lot of orange (professor work) like finals week. But I don’t feel guilty about the relatively less social and family time. Instead, I accept that week for what it is, a necessary part of my life, and make sure my time is distributed differently the next week.
Work and life are not opposite things, they are
Especially if you coach because you love it. I argue that’s part of your life and not work that is in opposition to the rest of your life! It’s not that coaching needs to be in better balance with the rest of your life, it’s one category of your life and when we view it
But it DOES take a lot of time
Now, I’m sure some people are thinking, but coaching DOES take away from time with my family, or my sleep, or my other job. And maybe it does. I encourage you to evaluate how you spend your time, monitor it for a week or a month, and see if the different areas of your life are far out of balance. Make adjustments as necessary. But know there are many more than 2 categories, work is part of life, and the challenge to stay balanced never ends. It’s a marathon, and every week will shift and look a little different. But if you’re aware of how your time is spen
You are in Control of Your Calendar
It may not feel like it, but in truth, you decide. If you need to say “no” to a coffee date you only sort of want to go on, or picking up an extra choreography job because you think you should… those actions are a choice. Ultimately, you choose how to spend your time, what to say yes (and no) to, and if you are purposeful about those choices, there is no reason to feel guilty about it.
There is no shame in failing at work-life balance because that balance doesn’t exist. You only fail when you let others control your calendar and don’t make clear choices about how you spend your time. If coaching is a part of your life, it’s one category. Give it the time it deserves when it makes you happy but don’t feel guilty when it takes time away from other things. It’s your life and your choice to spend time as a coach. But always step back and see the big picture. If you’re unhappy with how you spent your time lately, take control and make new choices!