Achieving Work-Life Balance Is Not A Thing, Say Experts — But There Might Be Something Better
Most working women know what a struggle achieving work-life balance can be. There's so much pressure to be the best employer or employee while at the same time managing your personal relationships: showing up as a mother, a friend, a wife or partner, and whatever other role you play outside your work persona. But perhaps the reason this seems impossible is because it is; According to many career experts and life coaches, "having it all" isn't about giving equal parts of yourself to everyone and everything that demands it — it's about knowing what to invest your time in (and what to say no to), and blending it all together the best you can.
Both your work and personal lives inherently involve a ton of stressors — conflict with coworkers, trying to maintain a connection in your romantic relationship, and financial strains to name just a few — so when women put pressure on themselves to be perfect at both, they're only making things harder. "We are too focused on being great at everything at the compromise of ourselves," says Tamara Loehr, entrepreneur and author or Balance is B.S.: How to Have a Work. Life. Blend. "Trying to be wife of the year, mother of the year, friend of the year, boss of the year, etc. is exhausting and a recipe for burnout. Societal expectations plus our own internal limiting beliefs are all playing against us."
In her book, Loehr — who herself has juggled being a breadwinner and mother for years — argues that instead of trying to achieve an impossibly perfect balance between the two, women trying to be successful in both their home and work lives should strive for blending. "Blending is where you find ways to bring the things that are important to you together, preferably at the same time rather than having to choose one or the other," she explains.
Speaker and mindset coach Tracy Lit, founder of personal growth and coaching company The Litt Factor, adds that staying present can also help you become your most successful self. "To keep your mental and emotional well-being positive and to help yourself feel energized, rather than depleted, I believe in presence," she tells The Zoe Report. "We harm ourselves when we're not fully present with where ever we are. If you are all in and present, then you'll be satiated, you'll accomplish and get done what you need to do to move the ball forward and feel great about all of it!"
Both women agree that instead of feeling pulled in different directions, those trying to achieve more so-called balance should re-direct their focus and reclaim their personal power by finding confidence and asking for what they need. For example, if someone's asking you for a work meeting during a time when you've already got a personal engagement, don't be afraid to ask for a compromise (like taking a quick call instead) so you're not bending over backwards to do both. "It's not about control, it's about choice," says Litt. "And that's where true empowerment and confidence comes from."
And part of being more confident in both your work and personal lives is understanding your own value. "Once you know your value and what this delivers, you start standing for the value you bring, you stop the exhausting exercise of trying to be measured by how many hours you put in at the office or the number of hours you bill," explains Loehr. "This earns us the right to blend."
So next time you find yourself putting pressure on yourself to show up equally for everyone in your life, perhaps try shifting the paradigm. "It's not about having it all. It's about going within, connecting to yourself and deciding what is important to you," says Litt. "And whatever the answer is, is wonderful because it's true for you. And in that, you truly have it all."