Busting the Work-Life Balance Myth

This post corresponds to a 40-minute recorded teleseminar. To skip the background and jump straight to the call notes, click here. I recently did another promotional call with my good friend Jenny Ferry for the iThrive Experience workshop for women in Scottsdale, Arizona this Saturday. I'm really excited about the workshop - I will be giving a one-hour talk on personal finance called "How to Demystify and Gain Control of Your  Money." I'm in great company with a handful of experts who are also speaking at the event, including Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation. If you have a female friend in Arizona, we'd be incredibly grateful if you sent her this link - it's not too late to sign up, and the event is a steal at only $59!

For the last few months, Jenny has been hosting conversation-style calls about various topics with speakers from the workshop. You may remember my previous guest spot, "How to Rock Your Personal Finances." Our last call was "Work-Life Challenge: Stop Forcing Balance and Find Your Flow" - a topic I'm sure many of you can relate to. I actually laughed out loud when Jenny asked if I thought this would be a good topic. ME?! Work-Life Challenged?! BAH. The reality: this topic is near-and-dear to my heart, given that I am juggling a full-time job with what (gratefully) feels like a full-time blog, trying to also make time for friends, family, relaxation and all the other things that make up a full, rich life.

You can listen to the call (approximately 40 minutes) by (or right-click to download). Note: the first minute and a half is chit-chat which you may want to skip! I have included a high-level outline of the call below and a fully transcribed version in a Google Doc.


Work-Life Challenge: Stop Forcing Balance and Find Your Flow - High-Level Outline

1:28-10:00 - Introductions, Background on our Perspectives

10:00 - Myths About Work/Life Balance

  • That "life" starts as soon as we leave the office.
  • That there is an ethereal scale hanging in the sky, and the sides will perfectly balance.
  • The myth that once you figure things out, life will stay balanced (when in reality there is no "there" where you have achieved total balance forever).
  • That we have total control over how big the various pieces of our life "pie" are at any given time.
  • That being unbalanced is always a bad thing (sometimes you need things to be unbalanced so you can really go after what you want).
  • That you will finish your to-do list and it will be done forever. There will always be things do to - don't let the list control your life.

16:00 - Fresh Perspectives on the Work/Life Challenge

  • It is all about flow - don't beat yourself up when things get out of balance, just notice and adjust.
  • Be okay with where you are in the moment, try not to carry guilt about the things you didn't get done.
  • Acknowledge that work is a huge part of our lives, not something to run away from; it brings confidence, sense of accomplishment and social interaction with others.
  • Try taking a moment-to-moment perspective. Ask yourself, "What do I need right now?"
  • Let go of the notion that "I'm supposed to have it all YESTERDAY" (the great job, the great house, the great relationship, the great bank account).
  • Relax a little bit, release some of the need for control, lift the oars!
  • Realize that we cook up so much of what we "should" be doing in our own mind - for most of us there is not a real person cracking a whip telling us what to do, saying "get everything on your to-do list done!" We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and sometimes we create more stress than we need to.
  • Take a birds-eye view, bigger picture agenda for your life.
  • Try to create balance within each day. Exercise, call a friend, go to work, do something restful. Rinse and repeat.

22:30 - Practical Tips: What Else Makes this Manageable for the Two of Us?

  • Jenny Blake
    • UNPLUG! With Twitter and Facebook and blogging and email it all spills together, and it all centers around my computer and my cell phone. Sometimes balance comes from prying myself away from my electronics to go be outside or do something fun.
    • Exercise in the morning, yoga at night helps me to unwind and transition to a different state of mind.
    • Make a point to relax, schedule time with friends, have fun - hang out with funny people!
    • Journal - helps me be more aware of where I am satisfied and where I am wanting more.
    • Kick myself out of the "I'll start tomorrow" mentality about things that are making me unhappy.
    • Awareness. When I'm not happy, I try to get clear on why and what might move the situation forward.
    • When I am stressed, I pick the three most important things on my list and just focus on those.
    • Block out time to reflect, slow down with things like workshops, coaching, journaling, etc.
    • Laugh! Remember that 9 times out of 10 I make things a bigger deal than they need to be.
  • Jenny Ferry
    • Mix it up. Create a set of structures that serve as reminders.  Example: a red string around your wrist - reminder of a mindset. Alarm Clock - set an alarm on your cellphone. Put something on your screen-saver. Post-it notes. Carry a stone or pebble in your pocket. Whatever you need to do to remind yourself to be aware and conscious of your life.
    • Gratitude journal, music.
    • Visualizations and affirmations adapted from the book Creative Visualization.
    • Make a list of what you've accomplished each day (rather than focusing on all the things you didn't get done).
    • Mix it up! There is no one way, no set answer.

34:20 - Final Plug for the Workshop

Clear your calendar and sign-up now for the iThrive Experience Workshop on Saturday, June 6! Not an Arizona resident? We would be grateful if you sent this to your female friends in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.

Reminder: You have 3 options to get the full call experience: you can listen to the call in your browser (about 40 minutes), right-click to download, or click here to read a fully transcribed version.