Pursuing work/life balance

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ohhh, work-life balance.  It's a topic that takes up so much of my thoughts and can be a perpetual struggle.

I'm not saying this to "glorify the busy" but just as a confession:
this proverbial "balance" that we speak of?  I don't think I have it.  

I'm in a stage of life and industry that is constantly on the go.  There is so much going on in my mind.  In many ways it's the industry (advertising can be crazy) but it's also this culture.  As a young professional we are considered lucky to have a job (and beyond that, one that we enjoy!) and we're supposed to thank the stars above each and every night and earn to keep our place every day.  I believe in working hard to be worthy of the roles but there's a pressure and an expectation.  And that is exhausting. 

It also makes time go quicker than I thought possible.  As this 'chapter' closes and I anticipate change (moving to Oxford) I'm looking back on the last three years. I am so overwhelmed with how fast they have gone.  More so, I'm freaked out at my inability to differentiate one year from the next. I want to remember!  I want to be able to look back on my life and really know that I have seized opportunities and lived it well.

I have always hated the notions of living for the weekend.  It's a 5:2 ratio that is just not ok.  Yet when that lovely weekend comes, I wake up on Sunday mornings thinking about the challenges of the week ahead.  We keep our phones on us at all times and respond to emails.  Then in our weekday evenings our computer accompanies us home more often than not.  It's no wonder that as we continue to wear ourselves out, the rates of auto-immune disorders and stress-related illnesses are increasing.  Yikes.

I think that the first step, is forgetting this idyllic and sought after "work-life balance".  The quest for always reaching for something more is exhausting.  We will always be able to improve.  Certain life choices will always change our ability to achieve it, definitely. but there are phases.  I want to accept that there are seasons of which end of the scale I will lean towards.  

I see it more of a "harmony", if you will excuse the cheese factor.  

For another layer of cheese as we go deeper into this analogy, there are times when one part is going to have a solo.  For the past little while I have been in a phase where work has taken precedence.  Work has cancelled social plans, made me late for gatherings, made me miss others altogether and has taken up my thought processes on weekends.  (It has also been a place where I laugh a lot, enjoy most of the process and get to spend time with great people.) But regardless of any "sunny side up" I associate with it, my scale has undoubtedly tipped into the work side of things.  It has gotten a solo.

There are going to be other times where it's going to tip to the others.  That glorious 2.5 week vacation I took with my family to Austria, Budapest and Prague in the summer?  That was all family. Those weekends where I don't look at any work emails?  the other side of the coin.  Markedly, the upcoming phase after the wedding will totally tip the scale to the relaxation, 'me-time' side; I will have at least six weeks off (pending work situations in Oxford) where I will be getting ready for a wedding, then preparing for Oxford, and then travelling/honeymooning before Luke and I settle in Oxford.  Six weeks.  And at this point, I don't know what works looks like for me on the other side of that.  It could be more than six weeks.  I just don't know yet.

There will be other times when these two sides are in harmony. Where they are co-existing and working beautifully together.  There will be times when one side is more prominent than the other and feels overpowering, but they're still working.  That's the hope.

All I can say about this, is that everyone needs to give themselves a freaking pat on the back.  Everyone needs to acknowledge every bubble bath that they take (or maybe just a nice shower or slower walk to the office!) and acknowledge that this "harmony" as I'm now going to refer to it takes time and has phases.  Look to be intentional about that moment - whether it's all work, all play or a glorious mix of both, and enjoy it.  You are doing so well.  Remember it :)

--- and if you need some ways to unwind after a phase of "all work", take a look here :)

--- I'm linking up today with a talented and fabulous group of bloggers, a link-up via The B Bar.  Take a look at some of the great blogs below and read about how they achieve work-life balance in their lives:

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