Madhu Einsiedler

What Is Work-Life Balance?!

You know my motto: No right. No wrong. Simply growth.

Interested in finding out how being off-balance can help you grow? Ahead of you is a 7-minute read that will spark your growth, if you let it.

What if I told you that there is no such thing as work-life balance? Allow me to start by re-adjusting your idea of “Work-Life Balance”.

I challenge especially two underlying assumptions of the concept of ‘Work-Life Balance’:

  • The combination of ‘Work-Life’ and ‘Balance’ suggests that these were ‘things’, ‘objects’, ‘stable states’ that we can create and then put on a pair of balances. Alone this mechanistic view lets us fail again and again.
  • The fad suggests that ‘Balance’ is a ‘state’ we need to seek – and with this, it suggests that we are not in balance. What a hubris!

Instead of chasing the clunky all compassing ‘Balance’ I suggest to rather focus on a concrete ‘feeling of off-balance’. This is something everyone can work with. We do feel off-balance, again and again.

The reality about ‘feeling off-balance’ presents itself in my coaching practice often like this:

  • “I know I should be home earlier, but I don’t seem to be able to stop working.”
  • “I would love to spend more time with my children but I come home so late, they are already asleep.”
  • “When we are together on the weekends I try to make up for the time I wasn’t there during the week.”
  • “I feel pressure from my partner to spend more time together, but work is really demanding and I don’t want to be the first one who leaves the office.”
  • “I do home-office days. Honestly, they are harder than being in the office. My children and partner think I’m available and I get irritated when I don’t have time although I’m just next door.”

What creates this feeling of off-balance?

Working with my clients I hear realizations I can summarize like this:

  • An unquestioned list of things we think we should comply to.
  • An unreflected “I should” that controls our actions, which creates tension and that feeling of being ‘off balance’ (“I should be home earlier…”)
  • Self-deception – self-image/self expectations versus reality
  • We hide the reality of our actions behind excuses and goals we proclaim but somehow don’t achieve “I really tried to leave office earlier but then ….”. Self-deception takes up a lot of energy, which by itself can throw us off our well-being.
  • The lost ability to see the moments that satisfy us.
  • Compulsory comparing; the underlying unreflected pain of never ‘being good enough’ – all that can drive us into the addiction to continuous searching and striving; “Where I am not is better than were I am”.

After thorough inquiry, after finding acceptance at our own pattern, or facing our own ‘I shoulds’ and self deceptions, and after learning to see and feel the moments that satisfy us, each time I see a ‘miracle’ that happens within my clients. The question is no more, “how can I achieve balance?”, but turns into new actions, new decisions, achieved effortlessly and with clarity.

This is how you can start your growth now:

  • List the situations in which the feeling of ‘off-balance‘ appears.
  • In those situations, note what are the things that you should be doing, and what are the things you are actually doing.
  • Face the fact – what you are actually doing is more important to you than what you should be doing. What you’re actually doing satisfies a need better or more urgent than what you should be doing. What need is it?

Now that you have the tools to recognize why you may experience the feeling of ‘off-balance‘ and the tips to work on these challenges, I invite you to practice them.

Be thorough and appreciative with yourself!

And you are welcome to write me back and let me know what breakthroughs happened for you from that exercise.

Happy deciding!

Want to grow more? Check out my blog on effective listening.