Work/life balance? It doesn’t work like that

Have you ever noticed that every now and then it feels like a particular concept is trying to get your attention? Making the most of our time is a conversation which often comes up, not just with my coaching clients, but in everyday life too. At some point in those conversations, I will hear the words ‘work/life balance’ and I feel my heart sink.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud anyone’s efforts to ensure that they have their priorities straight and that their time is managed accordingly. My issue is with the word ‘balance’. Deriving from the Latin for ‘two pans’, the word ‘balance’ conjures up an image of an old-fashioned pair of handheld scales. In order for those pans to be balanced, the weight on one side must equal the weight on the other.

That’s my issue with the concept of work/life balance: it implies that work and life must ‘weigh’ the same. It implies a 50/50 relationship and for most people, that simply isn’t the case. Neither is it the case that it’s a static relationship throughout our working lives.

With that in mind, I’ve been looking out for a better description of what I think we want to achieve. Recently, I came across Cali Yost  who has coined the phrase ‘work/life fit’. What I like about ‘fit’ rather than ‘balance’ is that it implies a flexibility and an ownership: we can each determine what’s important to us and plan how to fit the pieces together. It’s like a jigsaw where we decide what the finished picture is going to be and we can decide to change that picture as our life changes.

work_life-balance-implies-its-a-50_50-relationship-and-we-all-know-thats-not-the-case-lets-work-on

One of my clients is just starting out on her career. She has no domestic responsibilities and is keen to focus the bulk of her resources on her work at the moment. Other clients have childcare to consider and so their work/life fit will look different. That current fit may well change as their children grow older.

If you’re considering going part-time at work so you can continue your academic studies or travel more, you can create your own work/life fit to reflect that. If you’re approaching retirement, your work/life fit can be tailored to encompass that.

Yost talks about ‘tweaks’ – small changes which are applied to our everyday lives (rather like big rocks first) and ‘resets’ – bigger changes with a more formal plan necessitated by major transitions in our work or lives. To learn more about work/life fit, take a look at her site: worklifefit.

Today’s pebble for you to consider: how is your work/life fit at the moment?

What do you think?
Michelle

ps I’m working on my own work/life fit at the moment so am taking next week off. Back on the blog on 18 November.

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, email me and let’s have a conversation about how we can work together.

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5 Responses to Work/life balance? It doesn’t work like that

  1. Pingback: Work/life balance? It doesn’t work like that | littlestwitchblog

  2. I like the difference- a fit of everything works so much better than a balance in this regard. Some days it’s more of one and less of the other… and that’s ok!

  3. Cristina - Living Healthier Ideas says:

    I love the analogy with the jigsaw, indeed we need to fit everything and make the best of each day with our different lifestyles.

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