You will never have work-life balance.
It’s just not going to happen, and that’s a very good thing. In fact, the very concept of striving for a work-life balance implies that there’s already an imbalance. There is an inordinate amount of pressure for employees to be productive even when they’re off the clock. A survey of employed email users found some staggering results:
- 22% are expected to respond to work email when they’re not at work;
- 50% check work email on the weekends;
- 46% check work email on sick days;
- 34% check work email while on vacation. (Mother Jones)
Having a work-life balance also implies that there’s a “work” you and “real-life, off-the-clock” you, like there’s an element of you that is unaffected or not present after you start your work day.
Newsflash: a small hyphen between two words doesn’t magically create a perfect balance in your everyday life.
You will spend one-third of your life working. Your work is where you will spend at least forty hours a week, over two thousand hours a year, for forty-plus years. That’s a lot of time. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll probably spend 50-60 hours a week for the first five-plus years working on your company, so factor in another couple thousand hours.
If you get eight hours of sleep a night, that’s another third of your life. That leaves a remaining roughly eight hours a day for driving, errands, meals, soccer practices, Netflix marathons, and playing with your dumb dog that keeps digging up your garden.
A balanced life demands you only get a set amount of time to work on your project and a specific amount of time taking your kids to the playground. Can you imagine telling your four-year old, “Sorry, Daddy only had 38 minutes to swing with you because he spent 38 minutes on the Brownstone project on Thursday. Gotta be balanced, kiddo!” Worst Dad of the Year.
Your life is full of imbalance
The truth is you do not spend the same time, energy, attention, and stamina on every area of your life and work. When it comes to chasing your dreams, you will naturally be more inspired and driven to do what excites you than clocking in at a job you hate.
The key is embracing the imbalance. You will have days and weeks where your day job sucks a significant amount of your energy. You will also have times where your home life captures the lion’s share of your attention. Instead of fighting to be exact with your time, pay attention to areas where you need to invest the right amount of time: your family, your sleep, your significant other, your health, etc.
Whatever season you’re in, you need to know why you create time to chase your dreams. Some weeks it may be four or five hours, while other weeks may be only fifteen minutes. Capture the time you do have to invest in your dreams while you can.
You’re chasing a better future, a hope in something better than where you are today. It’s going to be messy and imbalanced and unpredictable and frustrating at times. That’s called life, and the beauty is that your life’s work doesn’t have to be confined to a time slot or a day shift. Your time is found in the in-between and the cracks of availability to create something extraordinary.