“Work-Life Balance” has become one of the most common topics people ask me about lately. I think this is because so much of our lives has been in flux this past year, and many people (perhaps you included) are finally getting the opportunity to get back in control now that the dust has settled. For example, some people are getting back into the office, while others have transitioned to working from home full time. Many people experienced significant life changes during the shutdowns, while others are eager to reestablish their old routines and rediscover their rhythm from months ago. Clearly, this is a dilemma that’s showing up for almost everyone and in a lot of different ways.
However, there’s one big problem with pursuing work-life balance that I think you should know – “work-life balance” does not exist. In this day and age, the idea is nothing more than a myth!
There are many reasons why I believe this is an obsolete idea. First, there are far too many variables in our lives that are constantly changing. Our personal priorities adjust daily, our professional objectives shift from week to week, and our social lives fluctuate depending on the time of the year (for example, our lives are pretty different on a random Wednesday in April compared to Thanksgiving weekend). We are not robots, and we can’t expect to instantly counterbalance every single demand of life like machines. Second, we are closer to our work than ever before because of technology. Perhaps it was much more realistic to have a work-life balance around 30 years ago, but times have changed. The internet is an endless stream of information and a direct pathway for customers, colleagues, and employers to contact us at any time. Simply put, the line between our “home” and “workplace” is blurred. Third, we have to realize that pure “balance” does not actually even do that much good for us. The idea that life should always be easy and entirely painless is far from the truth. Let’s get real here –
Sometimes we need to be uncomfortable to understand our needs better.
Sometimes we need to face adversity to grow out of unhealthy situations.
Sometimes we need to make mistakes to understand the value of our time better.
All things considered, I believe that expecting true “balance” for more than a moment is unrealistic at best.
So, if pursuing a constantly balanced work-life dynamic is impractical, what on earth are we supposed to do?!
I thought about this question a lot when I wrote my first NY Times Best Selling book, “Best Self”. While we can’t expect to control every moment of our lives, we can assess and address specific aspects of our wellbeing. So, I created a simple tool to self-evaluate what areas of your life need work and attention called “SPHERES”.
SPHERES is an acronym that represents the 7 unique areas of your life:
As a Life Coach , I always have my clients complete a brief self-assessment when we start working together to get a better idea of what areas we should be focusing on.
Let’s do a brief quiz to help you identify what areas of your life we can focus on improving. I’m going to ask you to rate each area of your life. Please take a moment to really think about your answers before responding:
1. Rate your SOCIAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean your social life is a mess and needs some help, while a “5” would mean that you feel your social life is perfect. Make sure to consider the quality and quantity of your social interactions: (Options 1 to 5)
2. Rate your PERSONAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean you feel unwell and are in desperate need of action, while a “5” would mean that you have great self-confidence and frequently practice self-care. Make sure you consider how often you practice self-care and evaluate the tone of your internal dialogue.
3. Rate your physical HEALTH on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean that you are facing health challenges and need immediate improvement. A “5” would mean you are taking amazing care of your health and have little to no room for improvement. Make sure to consider how you feel physically and the behaviors that help or hurt your overall health.
4. Rate your EDUCATIONAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean this area of your life is extremely lacking, while a “5” would mean you are intellectually fulfilled. Make sure to consider how often you learn about yourself, as well as how your learning is influencing your personal development.
5. Rate your RELATIONSHIPS on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean your relationships are suffering, while a “5” would mean you are highly functional and supportive. Make sure to consider your relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners.
6. Rate your EMPLOYMENT life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean you do not feel remotely satisfied with your job, while a “5” would mean you are very happy with your current work. Make sure to consider how your work influences your mental health and how well your job helps your life financially.
7. Rate your SPIRITUAL life on a scale of 1-5. A “1” would mean you feel disconnected entirely from your spirituality, while a “5” would mean your spiritual life is thriving. Make sure to consider how you’re using your spiritual life to support your pursuits and how rewarding your spiritual life feels for you.If you completed the quiz, you just took a step towards living a happier, healthier, and more authentic life. If you responded to any of the questions with a “1” or “2”, it’s time to immediately get into the driver’s seat. Any area of your life that you’re struggling with now has the potential to weigh down all the other parts of your life later. So, ask yourself,
What actions can I take today to improve my life immediately?
The next time you’re seeking “balance” in your life, I want you to focus on what you can do in the here and now. Shift yourself into action mode and start doing what you can to address the area that needs attention. Remember, we are always evolving as humans and our world is always changing. That means there is virtually always going to be at least one area of your life that needs attention. If you’re ever feeling stuck and don’t know where to start, you can bookmark this quiz and revisit it at any time.