When I posted the previous post Why Work Life Balance is NOT for Home Business Owners it prompted a number of discussions with some of my twitter followers on the whole work life balance concept. One of the questions that I got asked was - Why is Work Life Balance so hard to achieve?

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Why Work Life Balance Is So Damn Hard To Achieve

Why is work life balance so damn hard to achieveWhen I posted the previous post Why Work Life Balance is NOT for the Self Employed it prompted a number of discussions with some of my twitter followers on the whole work life balance concept. One of the questions that I got asked was:

Why is Work Life Balance so hard to achieve?

In order to answer that question, let’s start with the end game in mind? Ask yourself this:

Imagine you have achieved your ideal work life balance. What does it look like? What would it give you that you don’t have right now?

I am talking about what you specifically want to have happen. Imagine anything is possible. Imagine there are no limitations. Imagine the ideal is there for the taking. Be specific. Dare to dream.

Think of the things you listed down in answer to that question. Those are the things you should be focussing on. Those are the things that should be driving your goals and actions plans.

Focussing on those specific outcomes is much more likely to deliver the results you want than chasing balance

Chasing balance is like taking the wrong motorway. No matter how fast you drive, it will never get you to where you really want to be.

And that is why work life balance seems so hard to achieve – because what we want the end result to be is different to what focussing on balance delivers.

I would argue that it isn’t balance that we want at all. It is a life built on our core values. It is protecting our family life, relationships, quality of life and what is most important to us.

Remember this – you get what you focus on. Focus on what you really want. Not some outdated and flawed concept.

If this is something that resonates with you, join me and the growing number of people who are ditching the quest for work life balance in favour of designing life and work on our own terms. Sign up in the box below for weekly tips on designing your life, redefining your work and creating lasting change.

Then leave a message in the comments below on your views on the whole work life balance debate.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Ali,

    Its a good question. I think that we need to focus on whats right for us, not what does our peer group think is right. Unions advocate a work/life balance and it delights me personally that I’ve turned down jobs with banks because of the union status there.

    I’ve been self employed most of my adult life, which is getting close to half my life, bar 4 years where I worked at Dell for 2 years and 2 years at two other software companies. For the first 4 years of my working life I never took a holiday ( a few long weekends/city breaks were enough). This appalled a lot of people. I had no idea why. I was never tired or burntout and I worked lots of overtime and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The idea of going on holiday sounded terribly boring. But people kept telling me I had to go on holiday.

    I do now take holidays but I tend to work while on holiday, regardless of the type. Obviously, during times when I’m with people or at an event or an occassion, I turn work off. Work doesn’t interest me if I’m at someone’s birthday, christening, wedding, etc.

    But it suits me to work. It’s in my nature. Its my type of work. I can understand if I did a job that I would hate : accountancy, law, stock trading – I’d probably want a holiday every second week.

    One very dear friend of mine gives out to me for checking my e-mails and twitter when I’m abroad and it creates a certain amount of conflict for me. Its appropriate for me at that time to be “working”

    But is work always work? If you’re self employed – you can turnoff all you want but if you dont stay on top of projects, staff, cash flow, only you will get bitten.

    I use my spare time to work because if fulfils me. Therefore it’s my work-life balance to be working 60 hours a week and more when I’m not on holiday (I jest…)

  • I think you have hit the nail on the head there David, when you say that each of us needs to define what is right for us. That is why I get clients to create their own definition of success.

    Love your question “is work always work”. I used to work in the corporate world and I would class that as work. The business I run now most people would class as my work but it doesn’t feel like work because I love it so much and feel so passionate about it.

    Reminds of that saying that goes something like “find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life again”.

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your views. Always good to get other people’s perspective and hear different experiences.

  • I think this is so hard, because true life balance just doesn’t exist and each person’s vision and definition is different. We are chasing a moving target!

  • Royale, that is true. In addition each person’s vision and definition can evolve over time and change to fit different stages of their life. So it is important not to be too rigid too. For example, the business and life I have designed over the last two years with a young child at school is totally different to what I was designing 10 years ago when I first left the corporate world and had no child.
    That is why I encourage clients to review their vision and ideal at least once a year. I actually do it at the end of each quarter of the year for my own business and lifestyle.

  • Anonymous

    I agree – I personally don’t believe you ever achieve full balance – you are forever moving forward and adjusting.  There are times in in your life when you are going to be focusing on specific goals which will put other areas of your life out of balance for a bit and that is ok, you just need to be a bit more forgiving of yourself.  If your goal is balance you are setting yourself up for a failure.  We are creatures of growth, always striving forward so if you ‘achieve balance’ you are likely throw something else into the mix.  It’s like finally getting your baby to sleep at night and then having another one!  You will be driven by your core values at the time, which will of course change hence on goes the pendulum!

  • Hi Jennie
    Yes, it is important to keep in mind that what fits can change and evolve all the time. Accepting and being at peace with that helps enormously.

  • I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. I have what many would consider great work life balance. I work from home as a telecommuter for a major company. I get to keep my small children home with me. I am flexible and able to take my son to and from school. Overall it is great, but there is still something missing… I work so hard to juggle everything that nothing is ever as perfect in life as it looks on paper. I think we have unrealistic expectations paired with a workaholic lifestyle. Definitely enjoyed this thought provoking post!

  • Glad you enjoyed the post Traci. For me, it is about getting working from home to support the way I ideally want to live the majority of the time. As you point out flexibility is key and that is one of the major benefits of working from home. Thanks for dropping by.

  • I agree Rafal. Being clear on what your core values are and aligning all areas of your life with them is key.

  • Rafal

    I agree with your insights. I think everyone has it’s own measure of balance and achieves it in a different way. For some it means working a lot so they can enjoy the wealth for other it’s more diverse and spread over different areas of life like family, community etc. 
    Having clear values and expectations really helps to establish where things are.