As I was leaving for work, my son came running to hug me. I had stayed out late working the last few days and did not see much of him. His eyes misted over while we hugged and a pang of guilt hit me. “I really suck at this work-life balance thing,” I thought myself. For the rest of the day, I mulled over why achieving balance can be so difficult.
When we think of the word “balance,” the picture that comes to mind most often is that of a weighing scale. A weighing scale implies fairness — a static fairness. When one side dips down, it is necessarily unfair to the other side. Balance is a static state that is only achieved when both sides are equal.
With a scale in mind, I find that I need to have balance at all times — just the right amount work and just the right amount of family (or personal) time. When I have an extended time of one or the other (e.g. more than a week away at work, or away on vacation), both can feel “wrong” to me. And so I began to reason that perhaps the problem is not so much with achieving balance but perceiving it.
What if we used a different metaphor? What if, instead of using a scale to think about work-life balance, we thought of it as a wave? After all, real life is not static. We live in continual ebbs and flows, ups and downs, having less and having more. Thinking of work-life balance as a wave opens us to more positive and adaptive reframes – different ways of seeing something.
Here are three work-life balance reframes that have been helpful to me. Continue reading