The Work-Life Balance Conundrum

I LOVE the following quote. It resonated within me afresh recently. Like all insightful wisdom quotes it oozes truth and speaks into all our lives. The only sad thing for me is some just don’t get it. Here goes:

“Forget about trying to achieve the mythical work/life balance. Identify your priorities and make sure they align with the other people in your life who are important. Once this is done, the stress and frustration of trying to achieve work/life balance will disappear.”

-David Deane-Spread

The first thing I observe in this piece of truth is that it assumes most people these days find achieving a balance in life priorities particularly arduous. I mean, it is hard work attending to all the significant areas of life; giving appropriate time and energy to all the pursuits we find important, is it not? The quote challenges this. Is it really that hard to get our lives balanced? If you are like me, you could be seriously tempted to throw the whole concept of ‘burnout’ out for good!-but it is never ever that simple is it?

The second thing the quote mentions is that ‘work/life balance’ is a myth-the achievement of same. This is why it is a conundrum. Most people tend to chase their tails in achieving the magical utopia of balance in life. The struggle is often because of the many things to balance, let alone the many relationships we try to maintain. Most of these relationships have some form of dysfunction or other-we are human after all; add to this the almost unattainable goals we seek to achieve in life. No wonder it’s hard.

For many it is far too hard to even bother with, so they give up on achieving what shadowy goals they might have had, or shelve plans for the thing or situation that might stretch them. The sadness of a life never lived! Of course, we all do this to a greater or lesser extent; forego dreams of the big that is apparently ‘bigger than us’. The example I give however, is about the person’s life which is out of control, perhaps with too many superficial relationships, and too much ‘noise’-too much on, too little real progress, too many interruptions to the flow of life. It a messy life from the outside looking in.

The very positive side of this quote of course is that it’s amazingly powerful on hope. It states that the ‘frustration and stress will disappear,’ not maybe, but it will. That alone is reason enough to give it a go.

You might be saying “give what a go?”

Implicit in the quote is the commitment to an exercise of alignment-aligning roles and goals, and your priorities and values within the realm of key familial, business, and friendship relationships. There is so much material around now on how to actually do this. How could you not do this with such a powerful end in mind?

This is a challenge to all of us-and a challenge of maintenance. We must not fool ourselves into believing that once we’ve ‘sorted it’ it won’t present a challenge any longer. The nature of life is we tend to learn and re-learn things; we are presented with much the same problems ‘life’ problems through the journey. They are simply packaged differently, come at a different time, and reach (or hit) us at a different level, involving at times, different people-the common thread is ‘you’ or ‘me’.

But once we have our life finally balanced, the things that threw it out of balance in the first place are likely to be subdued for a time, before they again raise their ugly heads once more, and then again, and again over our lifetimes, in different and mysterious ways. This is the nature of life.

So, are there any excuses? If we’ve got a complaint about the ‘rub of life’ regarding balance, why not take a tip from this quote and challenge yourself?

What have you got to lose?

© 2007 Steve Wickham

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