What Is the Secret to Life-Work Balance?

Several of my clients asked me variations of this question in the last couple of weeks. Two are working full time and starting a new business in the evenings. One is scrambling to keep up with the unexpected rapid growth of her business. Another wants to be a better father. Yet another is grieving a sudden loss and feels concerned about spending so little time in her business.

The answer is the same for all of them: this is the wrong question.

Balance rarely exists. Balance might happen for one second in time. The very next second, the teeter-totter will have tipped in one direction or the other. Sometimes dramatically so.

What they really want to know: how can I be effective at all I’m doing and feel good about it?

The answer is super simple. Be Present. Judge nothing.

When my clients are present at their day jobs, present with the kids before they go to bed and present with their businesses in the evening, they feel alive and fulfilled. When they judge nothing, they don’t feel pressure that starts them thinking about life-work balance.

When I become too focused on work without enough play, Jasmine, my Director of Play insists I become present to her and to playing. When I judge nothing, I do as I’m told!

When my client is present with each task involved in her rapidly growing business, she enjoys her work and success. When she judges nothing, she knows everything is fine as she takes time to go for a run.

When my client allocates time every day to spend with his son, he’s happy about being present with his kid. When he judges nothing, he’s happy to work a bit later into the evening.

When my client is present to and compassionate with herself about her grief, she accepts what is. When she judges nothing, she trusts things are working out with her business, knowing she’s doing the best she can right now.

So what about you?

When you think your life is out of balance because you’re spending too much time or not enough time at work, what might you become more present to? What might it be like to judge nothing? I’d love to hear from you . . .

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for returning to the joy of you”)

6 thoughts on “What Is the Secret to Life-Work Balance?”

  1. Connie, you remind me that we so often forget that our life, our energy, our ability, ebbs and flows – like everything in nature! Yet, as humans we expect, want, only flow . . . Sometimes, our arrogance is so funny . . .

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Ann! If we all could remove “judgement” from our lives, we’d be a better people. I personally judge myself harsher than any judge or jury. I feel I could always do more, work longer, put in more effort. But at some points in my life, not only could I not (due to deaths in the family, emotional blows, etc.), I also didn’t have the energy. And I needed to learn to respect where I was at that time and give myself permission to just be. We really need to be teaching our youth more of this so that they don’t become encumbered with the same “judgements” that we laid upon us.

    Thanks, Ann, for always reminding us to be present in the moment, and to let go of judgement…

  3. Once again Ann you are insightful and spot on! And of course I always think you are talking straight to me!!

  4. Ken, you bring up something I hadn’t thought of – attempting to achieve balance gives us something at which we can fail – over and over again.

    Bad set up!

    Let’s create the games that give us glorious wins – over and over again . . .

  5. For me, the trick is in your first few words, “Balance rarely exists. Balance might happen for one second in time.”

    Guided missiles are controlled by a teleological system, they are rarely “on target.” (Substitute “in balance.”) When it is off target to the left, there is a message, “Correct! Correct! Turn right!” As it turns right it passes through being on target and then is suddenly too far to the right. “Correct! Correct! Turn left!” And so on, till Boom!

    We, most all of us, seem to live our lives as if there were really some static “balance” to be achieved, and that we are failing at it. Instead, for me (and it sounds like for you, Ann), it is simply a matter of being present (as you say so well) and continually moving toward what we want rather than trying to avoid what we don’t want.

    A great post, and thanks. Today is a good day for such a powerful reminder!


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