I’ve learned a lot about this in the last few years. And I’m still learning.
When I quit my job to do my Master’s, I thought I’d finally nail work/life balance. I thought that without the commute, the set working hours, and the pressure of consulting, I’d finally make time to exercise, eat well, see friends and just enjoy life a bit more.
Turns out, I didn’t. Instead, I saw that a lot of my over-working and sense of pressure and stress came from me, not my job. I’d changed the context of my work, but I hadn’t change my relationship to it.
It baffled me that I could genuinely WANT to exercise, meditate, and read, but still not do it. I could schedule ’self-care’ hours in my diary, but ignore them when they came around. I could be knotted up with stress and anxiety, but still not take a break.
I’ve now realised it comes down to priorities. I still, deep down, prioritised work over almost everything else, including my health and happiness. That imbalance in priorities was reflected in the small decisions I made each day to sacrifice self-care for an extra hour at my desk.
So for me, work/life balance isn’t about blocking time in my diary, or establishing boundaries. It’s about the balance of my priorities. And this balance is influenced by many quiet values, beliefs and assumptions that I’m gradually unpicking.
Underneath it all, I suspect, is an uncomfortable question – how much am I ‘allowed’ to enjoy life, rather than just work hard?
Everybody’s different. But when we struggle with work/life balance, we tend to look at the situation on the surface. And sometimes it takes deeper work.
If you want to explore your work-life balance with me, I’d be happy to help. It really matters.