One of the questions I get asked the absolute most is how I balance everything. I find this annoying… not in the actual question itself, but more so in the fact that there is always ten (and a half) different opinions on work/life balance.
It’s integration! You can have it all! There’s no such thing as balance!
See, it’s annoying! There’s no right answer, but the opinions are strong and loud.
But while I don’t agree with the answers, I think the question itself is flawed. Asking how you find balance between work and life implies that work and life are separate. But I don’t think that’s the case… not entirely that is.
Work is a part of life. But your life is not your work.
I have, admittedly struggled with this in the past. Even in school, I struggled to find “balance” between crew, my social life, and classes. There was give and take, yes, but it wasn’t the right approach. And then absolutely, I had challenges with work and life and that constant struggle for the most part of the first year of working.
It wasn’t until this summer that I ended up sort of figuring it out. I say “sort of” because it’s not 100%. It’s really just being closer to understanding. As long as you’re working on it and aware of your choices and your feelings, that’s the hardest and most important part! It’s okay to feel a little off from time to time… I really have to work at it, but for the most part I’ve been better.
This summer I realized that my life had a lot more components than simply my work (my blog, my job, my projects). And I realized that my work was not my life. Having a healthy life includes making sure that my work elements are going well. But also understanding that work isn’t everything.
It’s been a slow process this summer, but this month has had lots of steps in the right direction. I’ve taken entire days off. I’ve gone to late night, four hour dinners when normally I would have gone back home to work. Weekends are actually relaxing and rejuvenating and filled with fun. I’ve said no to things. I’ve turned away from projects. I’ve stepped down when necessary and up when I wanted to.
I’ve leaned in and opted out.
What I’ve found is that the more I’m aware of this, the more I enjoy everything. I enjoy my friends more and time alone more. But I also enjoy my work more. It doesn’t seem like a burden, but a choice and one that I love doing. I have been reminded of what it means to be passionate about something. Whether that’s a personal relationship or a project for your job.
So it’s not really about having a life and having work. It’s about figuring out how work fits into your life and how your life is bigger than your work.
Have you struggled with this notion of “balance”?