Dealing With a Work-Life Imbalance?

Dealing With a Work-Life Imbalance?

It’s a buzzword we’ve all heard: work/life balance. Books have been written about this concept, conferences held and hundreds of articles on the topic pour through the internet every day. It seems to be an elusive thing, this perfect balance between work and life, many would say, is the key to happiness.

How do you find the perfect work-life balance? According to Ryan Levesque…

You don’t.

Before you protest, he’s not saying that you should work constantly and ignore your home life, your family’s needs or your desire to unplug from time to time. He’s got an entirely different point of view:

If you love what you do, you don’t need to escape from it in order to be happy.

If you’re in the right place, there’s no need to compartmentalize your career and the rest of your life. Instead, work and life become a blend that complement one another.

Unusual Animals: It’s unnatural to distinguish between work and play…

As Levesque points out, “We’re the only animal that creates this hard distinction between work and play.” He goes on to say that “For every other species on the planet it’s a blend, it’s one and the same.”1 Think about a cat playing with a ball of yarn, or a dog playing tug-of-war with a rope… these things are natural practice for the hunting “jobs” that animals do, but they engage in these activities for fun on a daily basis.

Humans, Levesque suggests, aren’t innately that different from animals.

When you watch a child play… they dress up like grown-ups, pretend to go to the store, cook dinner and act out careers that interest them. They build things, make blanket forts and role-play together. And even when given a chore, kids tend to enjoy the job when you don’t tell them that it’s work.

But adults have created an unnatural distinction between “work” and “play,” one that has an impact on our daily satisfaction and happiness. We tend to categorize work as “bad” and vacation as “good,” which can make it awfully hard to get going on a Monday morning.

“You have chosen the wrong life’s work…”

If we’re wired to not distinguish between work and play, then why are so many of us barely managing to get through the workweek, just holding out for the weekend?

“If you feel the instinct, the urge, that you need to shut off,” Ryan Levesque says, “…if you feel this need to not think about your work, to get away from your work and you look forward to the time that you’re not working? Then you have chosen the wrong life’s work.”

Levesque contends that if you enjoy what you do, you might never fully “shut off…” and that’s not a bad thing. You can combine work with your home life, work with vacation time, and work with a walk through the woods —- and each component of your life can contribute in a positive way to the others.

Blurred lines: Entrepreneurs and work-life balance

Might things look different if we were able to blur the lines between work and life?

“Being an entrepreneur is a way of life,” Levesque says. “It’s not a job.” He goes on to describe a workday in which his kids are playing with Legos in his office as he’s writing copy or planning a webinar.

“The line between what we consider work and what we consider play, for entrepreneurs, is blurred.”

In other words, if you don’t feel like you have to get away from your job in order to enjoy yourself, a whole world opens up in which your work is enhanced by other factors in your life… rather than being compartmentalized into a separate category.

Unplugging is still important. Getting away from social media, your phone, your computer and your office are all vital — not just because you need time away, but also because it can refresh your creativity and give your mind time to wander. This mental “whitespace” often leads to new ideas and renewed energy.

The trouble comes when you can’t fit your work life into your personal life, and vice-versa.

Taking stock: What’s really going on when you feel out of balance

If your work-life balance is feeling off, it’s time to take stock of your situation. Is your job exhausting you because you’re not happy with what you’re doing? Is your career a good fit with your personality, and if not… can you take steps to make the situation better? Is it time to start planning for a career change?

It’s not OK to neglect your family or work so hard that the rest of your life suffers. Being completely present in the moment is vital in our relationships, and we need to keep that in mind. But finding joy in what you do improves not just your career, but your personal life as well.

“For anybody who has chosen a life’s work that they believe in,” says Levesque, “do they ever really shut down, really?” If you are really living a fulfilled life and doing what you’re passionate about, then what you do isn’t “work…” it’s just part of who you are, and the way you live. There’s no artificial line to worry about, and no scale to tip one way or the other. Work and life are not polar opposites but woven together as a part of your life’s purpose.

With Purpose,

Patrick Gentempo

Patrick Gentempo