Since our attempts to achieve greater work-life balance, we often find ourselves torn across the different aspects of our lives and frustrated and disillusioned as a result. Is this because the concept of work-life balance is fundamentally flawed?
The word 'balance' entails a seesaw with work on one side and family and personal life on the other. Like scales of justice, it suggests that both sides are equal. It implies constant juggling to maintain balance with sudden or increased demand on one side throwing the other side precariously out of balance.
I encourage you, in considering your own balancing act to change the concept to work-life integration. Work-life integration implies a synergy between the different aspects of your life wheree energy is expended more productively. Thus, attaining fulfillment is not so much about work-life balance but more about making conscious choices about your values and how you want to live your life.
Everything we do is subtly influenced by Myths suggesting what is appropriate, applicable and desirable. Myths are unquestioned assumptions that are culturally and socially determined and which hoodwink us into believing that we have less choice than we do. By identifying the Myths that inhibit you developing a rich and satisfying life, you can begin to choose from a wider range of options, explore the implications of taking different paths and accommodate the anxiety that results from choosing.
Consider some of the Myths which act as barriers to you achieving a truly integrated life:
Barriers to Change
- We continue with earlier choices out of a sense of duty and obligation. Sometimes, our roles and responsibilities appear to weigh us down and we forget that we too have a responsibility to ourselves. By regaining mastery over the way in which we live our lives, we can integrate our responsibilities to others with respect for ourselves. In turn, we become role models to our children and peers.
- We deny that we have the freedom to change. Anticipating change can become so overwhelming that to reduce our anxiety we deny that we have any choice at all. The crux of freedom is realizing that you are the captain of your mind and are free to think in whatever way you want. To avoid the anxiety inherent in choosing is to lead a life dictated by others of which you are only a passive observer.
- We lose sight of what inspires us to reach for the impossible. Our everyday commitments at work and at home often become so onerous that we believe that our vision of a rich and fulfilling life is mere fantasy. This is only the case if we allow it and redefining a clear vision of how work and personal life can be truly integrated can become a reality if only we believe it.
- We believe we have no right to mastery over our own life. Often, social pressures influence us to believe that we have to do certain things because someone else decrees it. However, we do not have to do anything because someone else dictates it. If we do these things, it is because we choose to do them. Even if they feel like commitments, they are still choices and we must take responsibility for them.
- We lack the energy to make changes and learn new things. It is easy to become stifled and weighed down with duty and routine. To consider changing our life situation then becomes too threatening. We ask 'Who would I be without my job?', 'My current relationship?', 'My status?' What would happen if I no longer earned the income I have worked so hard to secure? ' Instead of feeling safe and strong, we feel stifled, resentful or just plain bored. Change begins with ding to address the issues that underpin our current and future choices and living with the anxiety that meaningful living living entails.