About the Episode
“I’m working all the time and have no balance!”
Sound familiar? If it does, you’re are not alone! Even before the pandemic we were overworked and our lives were “out of whack.” A feeling that has gotten worse and become even more prevalent over the past 2 years.
So, how do we change this? How do we create better work/life balance? The answer starts with an objective look inwards to see what it is we truly want, what leads to our feeling of imbalance, how many hats do we wear, and more. In this episode we’ll dive into each of these areas, providing a clear-cut way of finding the balance you want in your life right now!
Welcome back, everybody, to another episode of the G.R.I.T. – Give, Recognize, Implement, Time® podcast. I’m your host, Steven Nathenson, CEO and founder of Strive For More. One of the most common struggles that I find is work-life balance. How do I balance my life? It’s way out of whack, it’s not there, it’s nonexistent, I’m working all the time, I don’t have the freedom to do what I want in life. It’s unfortunately very common. The good news in that though, is you’re not alone in that struggle. And there are people who live what they want in that regard, and so can you. So let’s talk about some of those tricks that will help us do it. One of the very first questions I like to ask is honestly, “What is it that you want to balance? Is it work in life?” We typically characterize it in that generalization of two hats, work versus life.
And part of the question is, do we view those as two opposing forces that are constantly working against each other? And will that inherently always create a struggle between the two because you’re trying to balance out the fight between them? Or is it perhaps a better view to look at it as integration? Can I have work-life integration? And over the past several years when we worked remotely, it’s actually a great example of it. We were able to more successfully integrate the two because it happened in the same place. There wasn’t the, “I get up, get ready, drive into work or commute into work, go to work from, say nine to five, commute back, and then have life.” That concept is much more readily available to create a quote-unquote kind of balance because there’s distinct part of the days that happen. Over the past couple years with people working from home, you could easily blend the two together. I get up, do some things in the morning, log on. Maybe I’m able to throw some laundry in, take a walking meeting.
There’s much more of an integration the two can happen more seamlessly versus having clear start and end times from being in an office. So the question is, do you want balance, or do you want integration, which actually takes the mental burden off of us in terms of how we view these parts of life and is that all that’s there? There’s a common question that can help of how many hats do we wear? Am I a manager? Am I a husband, a father, a triathlete? Am I active in my community? How many different hats do I wear in life and work in general? Because it’s not just work and life, there are subdivisions to it. So what is it that we are truly trying to balance because it’s not just work and life? There’s more to it. So if we break that open and we see how many hats that we wear, it is actually easier to then explore, what is it truly that we are looking to balance or integrate? Because I think that’s the stronger concept of the two and more seamless and less detrimental to us mentally.
And when we open that up to learn how many hats that we wear, it’s another great question of how satisfied am I in each area? What am I trying to achieve in each of those areas? How much effort and time can I put to each of those hats? We can’t give 100% to everything because let’s say we have six hats, that’s 600%. Now, we can give 100% to the hat we’re wearing at the time we’re wearing it, but we may find that, holistically in life, in the 24 hours of a day, I can’t successfully wear all those hats all the time. So what’s the appropriate amount to wear those hats? Being a manager, let’s say at work, and being a father and husband at home, they may be the three primary hats that we wear. And let’s throw being a triathlete in there, the exercise piece. So let’s say those are the four primary hats. It’s okay to have primary hats.
Maybe as a son and a brother, I want to wear those hats, but I can’t do it as much as the other four hats that are more primary. So what is the expectations I’m essentially putting on myself in the different areas of life and the different hats that I’m wearing? What is reasonable to expect of us? Because we often put too much on ourselves and this is why I think that wearing hats and this exercise of exploring those hats can be very helpful. When I feel like my life is out of balance, I can often feel that way because I’m putting too much on myself. I have to achieve this. I have to be this. I have to do that. We put a lot of expectations and pressure on ourselves. What is reasonable to achieve in the time that we have? When I ask myself that question, I can bring back myself to a place that alleviates that pressure.
I can talk and text with my family, my brothers, my dad, let’s say, if we’re talking about that father and son, those two hats, and that can help keep that connection. And on the weekends, or if they’re out of town, maybe it’s holidays or trips that we plan, that’s reasonable. It’s reasonable with everybody having their own lives and families and not living in the same city to say, “We can keep in touch. We can have a mass text chain group that we can keep in touch with and see each other on holidays and plan those trips and talk on the phone when we have the time.” I can be okay with it. And that’s a question, what is reasonable and can I be okay with it? Because that can alleviate the pressure and alleviate the feeling that we are out of balance because we’re not able to do things. What is reasonable for me to achieve in all of the different hats that I have in life?
One of the other things that is helpful is boundaries. There may be another term you prefer besides boundaries, but boundaries is the one that I’ll use just to illustrate the point. Do I want to respond to emails and texts from work at 9:00 PM? I may not. Am I doing it though? What boundaries exist that I feel are violated currently? Because that can help us also understand what leads to this feeling of not having the balance that we want. And what am I doing that feeds into those boundaries being violated? If I don’t want to respond at 9:00 PM or after, but I am and I set that precedence and I will always respond to it, then I am actively working against myself and participating in violating that boundary that causes me to feel like I’m off balance.
So knowing our own boundaries, knowing which ones of them are being violated, knowing what’s leading to that feeling of them being violated, and then what we are doing that feeds into that, can help us understand how to start tailoring that back, holding true to those boundaries and then having better work-life balance, or work-life integration, as again, I do believe integration is the stronger term. These things can help us understand more fruitfully what causes us to feel like this is off and then be able to create that plan of action to start recapturing what we want and alleviating that pressure and putting into place the integrated life that we do want to have. So first and foremost, what is it holistically that comes into play for you? Not just work and life, but those individual hats as we were talking about. What is it that you want to successfully be integrated in life? What is reasonable in each of those arenas?
And maybe we have 10 hats, that’s often too many, but when we look at it as, let’s say a weighted average, not everything has even weight to it. Meaning, you’re going to have hats that are more important than others and that’s okay. That’s natural. So when we put the primary emphasis on what is truly important in terms of those hats, we can then figure out what is reasonable for those other ones. What time can I dedicate to it? What does that look like? And that’s going to help alleviate this pressure that we put on ourselves and help us be more satisfied in each of those hats and areas as well. And then throughout the day, something, additionally, we actually haven’t talked about yet in terms of that concept of integration, what’s going to help me do that?
We are starting to get back into the office and companies are starting to do, say a hybrid of two days out, three days in. On those days that I’m in the office, we are having more constrained time points, if you will, of getting into work through commuting there, being at the office, and then commuting back and being at home. Maybe there’s things I can do on the way to work, on the way back from work, midday, even in being in the office, how can I integrate things successfully? We typically do have lunch breaks, right, that are given in this country. Is there something that I can do over lunch? Is there something I can do on the way to work?
Is there something that I can do after work that helps me more successfully be able to achieve things that I want to get done in that day and view it as a natural kind of integration of those hours versus the strict difference and balance of two parts of life? Because, again, I feel that if we do look at work versus life, we’re always going to view them as two opposing forces that are trying to balance and fight against each other for that time versus looking at it as an integrated holistic whole can naturally alleviate that sense that this is always going to be fighting. How do we harmonize the two together? And then the last thing that we did talk about was boundaries. What are those boundaries for me that I have? How are they being violated, and what am I doing that feeds into that violation? Because we always want to put it on others.
Or one of the key tricks is, what am I doing that feeds into that? And when we understand that, it’s easier to then start putting into place actions that we’ll hold to those boundaries and get other people to respect them as well. So you’re very much not alone in the concept of struggling for work-life balance. There’s definitively a way to have better work-life balance. And the tips and tricks that I shared today are just the tip of the iceberg to start breaking apart what that really does look like for you and how we can create it. If you have questions on it, you have comments, please reach out. We’d love to hear from you. Just let me know. Until the next time, if we never ask, we’ll never know. If we never try, we never will. Be the movement in your life.
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