Work-life balance is about just that, finding balance. Most of the popular literature leads us to think that there is a magical equilibrium where you work a little bit and have time for the rest of your life as a side effect of this. The reality is that this is rarely the case, it’s often a mad scramble to find that balance, and even when we do, it’s a razors thin edge you’re trying to balance on.
More often than naught, we end up finding ourselves closer to a scene similar to waves on an ocean, crests and troughs. You will undoubtedly find times in your life where you need to be out of balance. When that time starts to ease, you need to find a way back to a balance until it’s time to shift away from it again.
A baby story – life out of balance
The best example I can think of for being out of balance as a good thing is when you have a baby. The first few months are all about the baby; there is no pausing because you are starting to get a little tired, or you’ve hit your hours for the day. The baby’s needs come; first, there is only the baby’s needs, and your sleep can wait. Many new parents find their way to a deluded stupor in the first few months. I know I did.
Do you think new parents’ lives are in balance?
No! They know their life is out of balance, and while it will slowly shift to one of normality in time, it paints an obvious picture. There are times when going out of balance is the best choice, it’s the obvious choice, and often it’s the only choice.
The reality is we live our lives often horribly out of balance, and we rebel against this; we have this funny notion that everything should be perfect on X hours a day. Life doesn’t work that way; work doesn’t work that way. We all know this, even though we might want to think otherwise.
We will be out of balance at times in our lives; we need to keep that in mind and keep ourselves in check. If you’re way out of balance with work, don’t double down on the rest of your life. Understand the situation you’re in and balance out the rest of your life for the short term as best you can. Rest and rebalance afterwards.
My current imbalance
I started a new job a few weeks back, I was expecting to be part-time for a couple of months, but on day 1, I learnt that I would need to fill in for a critical employee that resigned. I went from part-time to full time in one day, and I knew for at least 3-4 weeks I would be horribly out of balance. That’s the way life works.
As this hit, I wasn’t prepared; I needed to balance things out a bit, knowing that I would be out of balance for a bit. Finding balance is an art and to achieve it I cut back on the things that I could; social media, which I’m pretty sparse on, went to virtually 0, writing on here went to 0. I concentrated on work and keeping healthy, and it worked. The short burst passed, and I am starting to come to more of an equilibrium (slowly).
Is it permanent? Probably not because I need to find a new rhythm again, bringing more of my life back to a semblance of balance for the short term. At the end of the day, the newborn baby starts to sleep and eventually, this is followed by a different form of imbalance with toddlerhood and then other developmental milestones until you realize they’re parents of their own.
Keep balance in mind, knowing that there will be times when you need to go out of balance. This doesn’t only apply to work and sleep but also to finances. Understand when you’re there and when it makes sense to bring yourself back to that knife’s edge until you fall off again. You have to keep finding balance, knowing you’ll soon fall off the knife’s edge.