There’s a lot of talk in the media about work/life balance as if we all understand exactly what that means. And we think we do, as we knowingly nod agreement at the latest pundit’s advice on gaining a balanced life. But what does it mean to have a balanced life?It may be easier to tell you what it isn’t. A balanced life is not stealing a few minutes from a busy but boring work day to do some online shopping or check on the kids at home.
It isn’t learning to meditate at the end of a hectic and harried day to wipe out the negative emotions of conflict with the boss or a customer. These things may be helpful, but they won’t bring lasting life balance.
A balanced life won’t necessarily come with self-employment; many entrepreneurs will attest to the long hours and relentless demands of running business. Taking a course in saying no or managing your time will help, but again, these are tools attacking symptoms, not the root cause of imbalance.
Blending Work and Life
Some even talk of the term itself, work/life balance, being part of the problem, as if work and life are separate and distinct. They talk of blending work and life, an acknowledgment that work activities are simply a part of life.
So what is a balanced life? It’s whatever a person says it is. Balance in life is not measurable in hours or number of responsibilities. It’s measured in emotions. A life is balanced when it feels balanced. A balanced life has a certain overall feeling of being right. It feels natural, normal, and appropriate for the individual experiencing it. Each person will reach that balanced feeling with a different mixture of activities and responsibilities.
The Fundamentals of a Balanced Life
The path to a balanced life is paved with the fundamental stepping stones of well being: Life Purpose, Passionate Activities, Personal Strengths, Principles of Living, and Personal Beliefs. These are easily remembered as the five P’s, Purpose, Passions, Powers (strengths), Principles, and Perspectives (beliefs).
A life built around the fundamentals of the five P’s will feel right, natural, normal, and appropriate. It won’t matter that much what life’s activities and responsibilities include, because they’ll be chosen in alignment with the fundamentals and they’ll naturally blend.
For more on building your life atop the five fundamental building blocks, see The Balanced Life.