Do you believe in ‘work-life balance’? Well, the truth is that if you chase the elusive ‘work-life balance’… you’ll never be happy!
Time and again people talk about or call me for coaching for “work-life balance”. But what exactly is ‘work-life balance’? It’s a very vague goal to have?
And apart from being so vague (which makes it very difficult to pin down as an actual outcome), it creates a ‘mental split’ where there isn’t one. Aren’t work and life just concepts? Are you not alive when you are working? Don’t you sometimes work hard at living; even work hard at having fun? The truth is that by thinking this way you are missing out on so much happiness and health in life. Why? Well, that whole way of thinking is a ‘cognitive distortion’ called either-or thinking.
Even if we defined what people mean by ‘work’ and ‘life’ and got actual behaviours and goals for each, that’s just remedial level coaching around ‘time management’ (another concept). Coaching to that is still missing the point!
How we think about the concepts we unconsciously hold in mind has a real affect on our physical and mental health. Suppose that those wanting work-life balance actually mean they want more enjoyment out of their daily activities; to feel less stressed, happier, more worthwhile, etc. Even this is very non-specific but at least it gives us some direction. Now a classic example of ‘work-life balance’ might be, “less time at work so I can do more exercise and eat well and lose some weight”. How you frame it in your mind will make a difference. Splitting concepts will have an effect.
If you eat healthily but are at ‘work’ will you not get the benefits in ‘life’? If you don’t consider some of what you do at work as exercise, will you not get fitter? Evidence suggests that if you have this ‘either-or’ thinking style about work and life, then no matter what healthy food you eat at work or exercise you actually do… no, you won’t get the benefits. So let me back up what I’ve said regarding the real effects on how changing your thinking will change your physical and psychological health. And to begin with, ‘physical and psychological health’ is systemic anyway! One affects the other.
A study* was done with housekeeping staff of a large hotel who considered they were not getting any exercise. All had their weight, blood pressure, body fat percentage and hip to waist ratio measured. Then half the group were told how many calories each activity of their job burned; vacuuming, cleaning, changing bed sheets, etc (the Informed Group). The other half were told nothing. Neither group changed their level of activity. After four weeks the researchers returned and the Informed Group (who now considered their work as exercise) had all lost weight, got slimmer and lowered their blood pressures. And probably felt a whole lot happier for it! This is just one example of how splitting concepts like health/work; work/life has a real effect.
The Neuro-Semantics model of Meaning-Performance Axis (covered in my “Your Meaning of Life” course), and the resilience strategies from Self Leadership, teach you how to bring more passion into your daily activities for great effect, and how to turn your ordinary daily tasks into meaningful tools to create a happy and fulfilling existence.
Leave a comment below and tell me what really ignites your passion for life? And what is your number one strategy for ‘work-life balance’?
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*Crum, L. J., & Langer, E. J. (2007), Mind-Set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect. *Psychological Science, 18* (165-171).