November 9, 2011
The term work/life balance has been one that has been very popular over the past 15 years – particularly within the public accounting world. However, the word, BALANCE, implies a visual image of a seesaw – where you are constantly trying to keep the motion even. Anyone that has ever been on a seesaw realizes that is an almost impossible task, especially when the other person is fighting your efforts. The new word that is being used now makes more sense: “INTEGRATION;” because you do not leave your personal life at home every day when you come to the office and you really don’t leave your work life in the office every day when you get home. Rather, the challenge is to feel like you are fully present in your work day as well as in your personal life.
In researching work/life balance I found a great website called Tiny Buddha which had some great thoughts about this issue.
If you have as a goal to keep your life balanced, then you do have to focus your efforts in that direction. One of the best ways to maintain balance is to be flexible with general guidelines. If you work long hours on Monday, then be intentional about spending time relaxing or with friends on Tuesday. If you set guidelines, then you have some flexibility in how you achieve them because naturally each day is going to have new situations and problems that do not always fit into a rigid timeline.
You should also define those things that are non-negotiable. If you do that then you have made a commitment that you will honor regardless of how life intrudes on a daily basis: those things could include exercise, eating right, meditation or sleeping.
Don’t worry about the little things, especially those things that you have no control over. Many times it is not that you are actually working while you should be in your “life,” but that you are thinking about work and that causes you to lose focus on what you are doing. If you are always thinking about what could or should happen, then you cannot be in the moment and that moment will pass.
Integration and calmness come with practice; they are not skills that we are born with. However, with practice they can become part of who we are and we can enjoy life more.