Work-life Balance does not exist and aiming for it sets you up for feelings of anxiety and failure. There, I said what you have been thinking all along. I would like, instead, to propose a different paradigm: Work-life allocation.
Allocation is not a fleeting instant that you struggle to hold onto or recapture. No, allocation is deliberate and done with forethought and planning. Allocation puts you firmly in control of how you choose to spend your time. You can go through a process and decide what your top priorities are, and how you will spend your valuable time. Your allocations will change over time depending on your priorities.
And balance? Balance is transient. Balance takes place between here and there. Actual balance can be measured in seconds – sometimes minutes – but never over the longer term.
Many of my clients want to discuss work-life balance and how they might possibly be able to achieve it. They feel stretched too thin. They think they should be able to “have it all.” They get stressed out trying to fit relaxation into their schedule! They feel guilty that somehow their life should be different or that things would be better if they could just…
Do you remember the first time you tried to walk the length of the balance beam with your arms out, catching yourself as your weight shifted too far to the left or too far to the right? Or maybe you have done a yoga pose on one foot or some agility exercise and thought to yourself, “Balancing is hard!”
Balance also might imply that you should be giving equal weight to everything, which is often impossible.
Consider this example: When you are launching a product, friends and even family may take a backseat temporarily – and that is OK. You made a conscious choice to allocate more time to certain priorities for a specific timeframe. You allocated your time appropriately, given what was going on in your business and your life.
After your product is launched, taking care of yourself and recharging may become your top priority. At that point, some other aspects of your life may have to wait. How you choose to allocate your time is much different now.
I like the concept of allocation because it is fluid and will change over time, will be different for everyone, and puts you firmly in control. I think all of us would like to feel that we have some control over our lives because much of what happens is out of our control, and we need to be OK with that too.
So what do you think? Does this concept feel better to you? I would love you hear your thoughts in the comments below.