Women In Business

Work-life balance is a misleading concept in business!

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What we have been told is that we are to strive for a ‘work-life balance’, but realistically what does that mean?

Everybody talks about it, but who do you actually know who has achieved it? And what does that achievement look like? And is it what you also long for, really?

Personally, as a woman in business if there was a magical extra day in the week, which we all know we secretly lust for, I would choose to work on my business. Not because I’m overwhelmed, too busy or inefficient with my tasks or time, but because I love what I do. Which does not have to mean that I do not make time for hobbies or family or sufficient rest. I can have everything that I choose and need in prioritised and proportioned amounts, and I know that my ‘balance’ in work and life will look very different each week as I advance in myself, my professional development and business strategy and priorities.

So what does a ‘work-life balance’ mean to you? What do you choose to prioritise and how do you confidently own that choice?

What about our expectations?

Technology doesn’t help our expectations. The world has become smaller and faster. We can get access to anything almost immediately and as a result our expectations of instant gratification have significantly increased. From Uber, Uber eats, online check-ins to Netflix and online shopping and ordering. We can outsource everything easily from our phones on the go. And the options are endless and keep improving.

Having access to apps that provide us instant solutions to our problems in record time has led to a serious saturation and overload in our expectations. We are constantly ‘plugged in’ and being fed selected information from service providers, businesses, social accounts not to mention friends and family of the ‘perfect life’, looks, career and or business, reinforcing the perception of the need for a ‘work-life balance’.

But has this begun to distort our ideals and expectations of ourselves?

We are not machines, we are not like computers, we actively need down time and an appreciation for patience and presence. Yet we are much more driven and led by the 24/7 nature of technology. A blessing and a hindrance to our personal expectations and limits in ourselves and our businesses.

What is the active and more realistic solution than to strive for ‘Balance’?

Personally, I use a Mindful approach, with practical techniques designed to support my daily and weekly routines, combining reflective journaling, emotional intelligence observations and overall self-awareness. So that I can actively manage my time, reactions, behaviours and suitably adapt my responses. So that my internal dialogue is clear and easily identified, triggering my awareness to focus more on where I feel I am needed. So that I may make better decisions for myself, my family and my business.

Isn’t it interesting that we are being taught how to quieten the mind, slow ourselves down and improve our emotional intelligence, all to manage our growing attachment to technology and our increased expectations. All for the concept of obtaining the ‘work-life balance’?

What does a ‘work-life balance’ mean to you?

Sipping cocktails on a beach while staring at a device? Or leaving the responsibilities of your career or business at the office when you go home? Does it mean working consistently during the week and/or living for the weekend?

And this is where the concept falls down. The social saturation we have these days through technology and its capabilities and advancements, has us buying into the fact that we can have a balance. Yet, no one seems to take the time to define what we are balancing and what it means to them and their business.

The constant access to our devices and the social media imagery that we see often depicts that the freedompreneurs laptop lifestyle, and exotic offices are the ultimate destination in happiness, and possibly balance. But is it a far comparison and do they really exist without stress, financial pressures, relationship gripes etc. Which are the norm of most people’s everyday life, balance or not.

Personally, I do not believe in having a ‘work-life balance’ because every day’s expectations of ourselves and our businesses can be different depending on our moods, our emotions, our experiences, (thank you Mindful self awareness!). Therefore the concept of balance is misleading especially in business.

The Business-life integration

I like to talk about the business-life integration, and how every aspect of our lives contributes towards a fulfilling existence. So that your business contributes and integrates into your life to improve your existence and experience of living. After all, if you are in business then there is a passion and purpose behind what you do, which already has an element of fulfilment, right?

Having a business-life integration gets you to focus more realistically on how you integrate the two together to better support your vision of living a fulfilled and happy lifestyle. Not giving equally to both at all times to achieve a ‘balance’, when honestly that’s pretty unrealistic when you run a business.

It takes focus and attention to determine how this integration can optimally work for you and your lifestyle and business goals. However through this approach you get to decide what works for you, instead of being led to believe the elusive ‘work-life balance’ is out there waiting for you.

What you can do to define your Business-Life Integration, mindfully.

Unplugging from technology clears our minds creating space for us to identify what it is we are striving for in our everyday living and where that is leading us to. Instead of us getting lost in the technology vortex of scrolling, losing time and experiencing others perceptions of balance, integration or fulfilment. Take all of that away and concentrate on consciously creating space to create our own. So the advancements in technology support us and integrate into our lives as an additional aspect to enhance our life and Business experiences, not to overtake it!

1. Determine for yourself initially what proportion of your week you would like to be present with your business, mentally & physically. Then test that concept with your family.

We often spend time thinking about business even when we aren’t there, and that doesn’t scream of a conscious and controlled integration.

Consider what it looks like to have a healthy mental relationship with your business, and when you feel it’s acceptable to encroach on your personal time. Enjoying what you do and knowing how it contributes to you feeling purposeful is an important part of this process.

Discuss your approaches to manage this with your nearest and dearest, having support and another perspective to get behind your business goals and understand them truly helps in developing new sustainable habits and thought processes aligned to your business-life integration.

2. Create transition moments.

Have you ever found yourself leaving work especially in a rush thinking about all the things you are pausing only to have to pick up again tomorrow? And that impending doom feeling lingers into your personal life for that evening or even the following morning, maybe even affecting your sleep? If the answer is yes then a transition moment might be just what you need.

Creating a mindfulness ritual to support you to consciously cut mental and emotional ties to the unfinished work within your business so that you can go home looking forward to your evening, will support a successful integration. It might be that you write a list for the following day to ensure nothing is forgotten. You might create a gratitude rampage for all the ways you’re looking forward to enjoying your evening when you get home. You might spend 5 a solid minutes centreing yourself in your car before you drive home, managing your emotions, expectations and your need to have an enjoyable evening. An exercise routine can also support this if you need something more active and physical.

3. Create a daily ritual to connect you to your purpose and business.

Having a purpose bigger than ourselves helps us keep perspective, enables us to keep grounded and fulfil our need to contribute to a greater part of society. Every morning you can create a space to remind yourself what you are doing today and why, how does this make you feel and what qualities do you need to bring into your day to enjoy it and be your best self in life and business. In the evening, you can create a space to reflect on how you accomplished this vision for your day and how well you spent your time connected to your purpose.

If you need support in creating these rituals you can use my free Mindset Pathway and Planner to support you.

About Alison Callan

Alison Callan is a Clarity and Success Coach, an internationally accredited Associate Certified Coach, Mindfulness Consultant, Facilitator and Speaker.

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