No matter why people come to me for coaching, sooner or later the question of “work-life balance” comes up.

Are we all workaholics? What happened to the weekend? What happened to hobbies? Or just sitting around doing nothing on a lovely Saturday afternoon?

There’s a long sociopolitical answer to these questions, but let’s start here: we’re living in a time when our entire system encourages us or even forces us to (sometimes literally) work ourselves to death.

As Mary Blair-Loy pointed out, “In a society where work is considered morally worthy, being a workaholic might not seem like a serious problem.”

I actually hate the term “work-life balance” because it implies there’s some magic formula we can use – if only we can find it – that will put everything in balance and then we’ll be able to get it all done.

This is crazy talk.

For many people, there aren’t options for opening up more free time to breathe and take care of themselves and their families – it’s not financially feasible or they have little ability to change their work environment.

This means that in order to change our work environment, we’ve got to go against the grain and try to get others to go with us.

While we’re working on that environmental shift, there are steps we can take to make things better for ourselves.

To Amy Heydlauff’s good ideas for staying positive in trying times, I would add:

  1. Keep your focus on your circles of control and influence. Debra Russell has a fantastic explanation of the negative impact of allowing our minds to stay focused on issues or worries that we can do little or nothing about. I don’t agree with her examples of “Direct Influence”: how much you earn and how healthy you are. We know that these are actually deeply entangled with forces beyond individual choices. But that aside, this is a great video and I highly recommend it.
  2. Find a mindfulness practice that works for you. There are dozens of ways to practice mindfulness, which we know for a fact has positive psychological and physical benefits. These practices don’t have to be time-consuming: you have to do housework at some point anyway, right? So make it a mindful activity (instead of just a boring or frantic one).

Let’s kick off 2020 not by looking for “work-life balance,” but by practicing steps that will increase our well-being despite circumstances we may not be able to change – at the moment. (I’m working on the revolution. Stay tuned!)