He, who lives everywhere, lives nowhere.” –Seneca, a Roman philosopher
Most of the working world is on a never-ending quest for work-life balance. Recently I decided that before I could find it, I had to define what it meant to me. To do this, I started with what I knew it wasn’t
Although it would be lovely, I’ve come to realize that having work-life balance does not mean I will have equal time for all things I want to enjoy. I spend five days a week working the majority of the day so it is unrealistic to try to have an equal amount of time outside of the office pursuing other interests.
Although I strive for some sort of equilibrium, I know that the definition of a work-life balance is a moving target. It will change as I move through life. Scheduling hard hours for the same activities every day is simply unrealistic. I do, of course, know friends who hard schedule their evenings after work and do the same thing every day. In fact, one of my friends uses the Notes app on his iPhone to plan every half hour of his evening after work. He enjoys when he finds himself “ahead of schedule.” This may just be the accountant in him, so focused during the day on his billable minutes that he can’t separate himself from it at night, but I think this is a little out of the ordinary. I instead try to keep my evenings after work open to things I enjoy doing. For example, I love to cook, but I don’t like to grocery shop. To keep my evenings less hectic, I grocery shop for the week on the weekends and I leave myself more time to cook during the week.
There isn’t going to be a cookie cutter, one size fits all model for everyone, but in doing some research I found two key concepts that I believe apply to all when striving for work-life balance. These bookends are achievement and enjoyment. If we strive for both each day in everything that we do, we will be much happier. When is the last time you achieved and enjoyed something at work or at home?
I am in the process of taking the advice of Seneca from above and focusing on not spreading myself too thin. Instead of doing a lot of activities I somewhat enjoy I am trying to cut back and only do things that I know I truly enjoy (and get a sense of achievement). So far I am happier and less stressed (especially during the week). I invite you to think about the same thing and share your thoughts here.