You don’t want balance you want control

OzYellowAndRedBrickWork life balance is a myth.  

I wouldn’t mind so much, I generally like mythology, but this particular myth was invented to create a sense of inferiority and that I find annoying.

When you start from a mythological ideal as your goal, you create an endless cycle not meeting the mark, your energy has nowhere productive to be and you begin to complain about how you need to focus on work life balance.

Then the rest of us find you a bit annoying and prone to complaining too much.  All this can create an endless cycle of guilt and suffering.

You don’t want or need”balance” in your life.  You may, however, be working too much.  So lets quit talking about “needing work life balance” and start being honest and talk about how we might have lost control of our priorities and our lives.

Working too much often comes from a manufactured sense of scarcity that we allow ourselves to confuse with truth.

I have two concrete ideas that might be helpful to fixing the reality of being out of control.

Big idea #1

It’s not the amount of work — it’s the type of work as compared to your expectations.   It is the ability for you to have a say in what you do and in having the ability  to tune the mix to feed your own soul.  While this can feel out of your ability to resolve, I encourage you to focus your energy here.

Ask yourself a few key questions

  • What do I wish I were doing that I am not? (be specific)
  • What am I doing that I wish I were not? (again specific, if you just say working too much you are missing the point here).

Next, spend some more time on what is going well in your life.  What are you doing well?  What are you accomplishing?  Start focusing energy on gratitude and sufficiency.   Start realizing that you have a wealth of great things to be proud of in your life.  You don’t have a balance problem, you have a full life.   Reframe the whole topic with yourself as tuning your time expenditure to help your life be more rich and fulfilling.

Big Idea #2

Small things matter in a big way.

So often people make problems big and then try to make themselves feel better by telling everyone they are going to fix it.

What works better (while being far less glamorous) is breaking big problems into smaller problems and resolving them.  Whether that is a huge pile of work that is sucking away all your energy or 50 lbs you are hoping to lose, the same strategy will work.  Focus on the smallest component of the problem and fix that, this creates more self control which gives you more confidence which builds into big achievements.

Doing something small might not be charming or glamorous but it will make you feel powerful and in control.

So I leave you with this — you will not ever achieve balance.  But you can achieve happiness and you can get back control if you want it.

In the end it’s all about habits.

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About Meg Bear

Meg Bear is an executive, visionary, leader, idea generator, change agent, disruptive technologist and enthusiastic TED conference attendee who is focused on making work better.

Posted on 17 May 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Lots of thought provoking things in this article! I read through several of the links, too, which has really got me thinking. I’m busier now than I have ever been. I’m never bored anymore – which is a good thing, but I also just don’t have time to detach. I took my first vacation in a long time this year where I didn’t do any work on it. It was wonderful, though stressful to all of the backlog that I came back to.

    Now, to take the time and see what I need to stop doing… and see if I can get more satisfaction.

    Thanks for the insight!

    • Thanks for commenting Valerie! I think that post vacation is the perfect time to decide what to quit doing (helps with the backlog reduction, as well as you are better able to decide what you are not doing — and why that is a good thing). Cheers, M.

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