Work Life Balance vs. Intentional Imbalance
I recently gave a speech to a group of about 50 moms, many of whom work outside the home, but not all. The topic was on why I believe work life balance is not possible. I know, that doesn’t sound incredibly encouraging right off the bat but let me convince you why I believe this concept of work life balance isn’t possible but rather we should be striving for intentional imbalance.
The topic of work life balance has been quite the buzz word since I began my career almost 15 years ago. And for so long as I grew my career in the corporate world, I thought I had work life balance - my career was thriving and my family was doing incredible. However, I neglected the vital priority of taking care of my own health. I’m guessing many of you can relate where you put everything and everyone above yourself and oftentimes what ends up being your turning point could be a health scare (was my case) or just plain burnout.
I don’t believe work life balance is possible because even if we have everything in perfect balance, the reality is, we oftentimes need more margin in our days and just want the option of being able to decide where we spend our time and energy and being intentional with that imbalance. If we’re striving for perfect balance all the time, what happens when our child is sick and we spend a disproportionate amount of our time caring for them during the week? Of course we’d rather spend the time taking care of our child but have we then failed at the balance since our work was put on the back burner? Perfect balance would be a constant struggle.
But imagine if we created more margin, more white space in our days, where we could spend our time on our highest priorities whether that was finishing an important work project, being present for our child’s baseball games, or just reading a book at home because that recharges us. That’s what we need, intentional imbalance where we have enough margin in our days to direct where we’re spending our time and energy and understanding that life is an imbalance. Certain seasons of life will require more of our time in one life domain than another. The important thing is having the margin to make that decision of where to direct our time while still making sure our highest priorities are met as well as our own self-care.
Sounds glorious, right? But how do we get there? Below are 4 keys that have been significant in my transformation over the past few years from burnout to a life of intentional imbalance with plenty of margin (on most days).
Seeking Intentional Imbalance:
4 Keys for Transformation
Get rid of all of the non essentials. What can be done by another service or someone else to free up your time? The key here is to buy back your time so that you can begin to create more margin in your days. Here are some ideas to consider:
House cleaner or other hired help
Use Amazon Subscribe and Save for all of your routine supplies and products
2. Regularly evaluate your life and whether you are going in the direction you want to be going - being intentional is everything. The key is to avoid drifting and living life on autopilot. Consider trying a quarterly review where every three months you stop and ask, what’s working, what’s not working, what do you need to start and stop doing. These questions alone will help you to clear out some of the waste from your days.
3. Guard your sleep - you are no good to anyone if you are not taking care of yourself. Aim for 7-9 hours per night if that’s practical for your season of life. Also find activities that recharge you and fill you back up and schedule those in. It’s not selfish, it’s critical that you do these things to take care of yourself if you want to thrive in other areas of your life.
4. Setup your systems. Whether you work outside the home or not, are in business or not, you are a CEO of your home. Think about it, you may run the finances, you’re in charge of HR (hello husband and little ones!), certainly in charge of operations with running the family calendar and coordinating logistics. And for any CEO to be effective, they have to be able to rely on effective systems that manage the routine activities for them so that they can work on higher leverage activities. So whether it’s a set of daily routines, home management system, personal finance system, or anything else, have systems in place in your home that manage the routine and repetitive tasks so that you’re not constantly worried about something slipping through the cracks.
As you’re seeking this intentional imbalance and the ability to direct your time and energy, don’t ever seek perfection. The goal is progress so give yourself lots of grace during this journey.
The 4 keys mentioned above will help you to create more margin in your days so that you have time to redirect to your priorities and also the space to regularly reflect and evaluate on what’s working and what may need to change. As you begin to live a life with intentional imbalance, I would bet that you’ll begin to feel more peace, calm, and joy in your days knowing that you’re being intentional in directing your life.
So what’s one idea that you took away that you could implement over the next week to be more intentional with your imbalance?