Practice – Not Perfection – Leads to Work/Life Balance

fun.JPGContributed by Sylvia Warren of

Are you wondering if a balanced work/life is even possible? Does it feel like balance is just another thing you have to achieve? If you have answered yes to either of these questions, you are not alone.

What you are experiencing is part of a phenomena that exists in a much larger context. In today’s ever-present world of work, the challenges of work/life balance are global.

Surveys in Great Britain, Canada and Australia reveal that balance in work and life is a leading 21st century challenge. Which of the 3 global work/life balance trends – culled from research conducted between 2000 and 2007 – relate to your experience?

1. Overwhelming workloads and unrealistic performance expectations are a root cause of work/life imbalance.

2. Smart entrepreneurs, executives and professionals find work/life balance very difficult to achieve.

3. Nonstop work demands and unrealistic personal and professional expectations are overwhelming.

As a result, chronic stress and sleeping pill sales are escalating. Relaxation and work-free vacations are disappearing.

A recent study of 10,000 British civil servants suggests that work-related stress can kill. It sets the body up for a heart attack. Clearly, the personal cost of a serious deficit in work/life balance is unhealthy and not sustainable.

Yet our lives get busier and busier. Work demands continue to accelerate. Is there a way back to balance? The answer is YES!

The path to work/life balance is paved with good intentions. So it’s essential to begin with two small steps. First, look at how you think about balance and be open to shifting the way you view it. Second, define what work/life balance means to you.

Do you think about balance as a static state, a place where you finally arrive at a comfortable point of equilibrium? Or do you see balance as dynamic movement, like a pendulum moving in and out of its center?

Picture a little girl on a bike, a surfer riding a wave, or adults practicing Tai Chi. In each instance, their balance suggests manageable motion – finding one’s center in continuous movement.

How you view balance shapes your sense of it.

A dynamic sense of balance is easier to experience in a fast-paced work/life than static balance. Knowing how you perceive balance informs how you define what work/life balance means to you. If you are not sure what you want your work/life to look and feel like, how will you know when you have it?

Busy women in business, finance and law rarely think about a balanced work/life in positive terms. Instead they are more likely to have unexamined expectations about what they can’t have or would have to give up.

Escape that pitfall.

Take a little time to explore what a balanced work/life could look and feel like for you.

Jot down your thoughts – stream of consciousness. Notice the difference when you focus on just the possibilities. Then take 3 slow deep breaths. Ask yourself: What simple step can I take – starting now – to move me closer to a balanced work/life?

Practice – a little each day – feeling balanced in your work and life.

Wondering where to start? Begin with an easy 2-step process.

Take the simple free self-assessment in the 7 Mindset Secrets to Life Balance to see how you view balance and define what a balanced work/life would look and feel like for you. You can download the self-assessment and follow-along audio by signing up at this link: Decode 7 Mindset Secrets of Life Balance. As a bonus, you will receive periodic 1-Minute Life Balance Practices to help you bring yourself back into balance.

When you complete the simple self-assessment in the 7 Mindset Secrets of Life Balance, take 1 minute to schedule 30 minutes of FUN for yourself. I know you’re crazy busy. That’s why I’m inviting you to start with only 30 minutes.

Open your calendar and block out 30 minutes of time just for you. Spend your 30 minutes of FUN doing something easy and effortless – or doing nothing at all.

  • Wander through a bookstore if you love to read but never seem to have the time.
  • Go for a walk without your blackberry, cell phone or iPod. Let your senses guide you. Just notice how what you see, hear and experience makes you feel more alive.
  • Meet a friend for coffee or tea and talk without the aid of any technology.
  • Sit under a tree and think funny thoughts. Remember fun experiences you’ve had.
  • Be silly with your children or your dog or your cat for 30 minutes. Let yourself laugh, laugh, laugh.

Notice how you feel after your 30 minutes of FUN. Are you less stressed? Do you feel refreshed? Do you have more energy and a greater sense of balance?

Pay attention to what works for you. Schedule another 30 minutes of FUN for yourself…and keep practicing small ways to enjoy work/life balance!