A recent client conversation turned to the desire for better work-life balance. During the conversation about setting intention, this conscious leadership coaching client told me that he was being advised to improve his work-life balance, implying work less, live more. The idea of balancing work and life has always been uncomfortable for me. I recall those scales used during chemistry lessons, the brass apothecary balance scales, where a few grams would take the scales out of balance. Another image is that of the see-saw, or the teeter totter, where again, a small shift in weight or position can dramatically affect the balance. This tension between one state and another creates stress and reduces performance.
Balance associated with work and life implies that we must divide our time and energy equally between work life and home life. This isn’t necessarily the case and may even be impossible. How can we shift the weights on opposite sides of the scales so the two can be equal? Can we really achieve work-life balance? The fact is that we can’t, at least not for long. Balance is an unattainable standard that can result in constant feelings of failure.
Perhaps balance isn’t the right word. Rather than trying to balance everything all of the time, with the associated tension and frustration, it’s time to think of something that reduces tension. Maybe it is time to shift our intention from work-life balance to work life harmony. This image brings to mind harmonious music, where different notes from different instruments are played together to create a beautiful sound.
Becoming more conscious about our relationships at work and at home, and between work life and home life, can help us with setting intentions for how we wish to show up everywhere and to encourage work life harmony. To consider work life harmony, I invite you to consider the following questions: What aspects of my life are having the most positive and most negative influences on my work? What aspects of my work are having the most positive or negative influences on my life? What are the stress points? Where is there dissonance? What actions can I take to shift from dissonance to harmony? It is time to seek harmony, to play beautiful harmonious music.