Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by Imaan Hammam
Let me just start by saying that I won’t answer the question, but I do hope that I’m able to give you some food for thought on the two possible answers so you can answer it yourself. Yes, there is such a thing as work-life balance and no, there is no such thing. The reason why I won’t even attempt to answer the question is, it would be too much of a narrow and personal view to my experiences and that’s not my goal. I mean, sure you’d get my opinion but what would that actually add to your life? The answer to that is nothing!
Firstly, because what balance looks like for me and what it looks like to you, might be completely different. Secondly because the importance we all place on work and the responsibilities we have towards it are too different and varied to try and generalize them. And lastly but not least, is this even a goal of yours? Are you trying to find balance in what you do and the other areas in your life? Or are you quite happy to give more of yourself and focus more on one area than others at this point of your life? That’s the realest part, wherever you are at this point in your life, respecting and being aware of your journey is invaluable to deciding what your answer to this question is.
And more importantly, what do you want it to be?
Let’s start with idea that no, there is no work life balance. The idea that no matter what you try, something will have to give. The concept that there’s no way that you can give equal amounts of attention, focus and effort to multiple things at the same time. The concept that balance, is what we’re always trying to get to, but the journey to it, is not black and white or a straight line. It’s a up and down, one day one thing and another day something entirely different.
And here comes the opposing argument, the one that brings forward this perspective: how about creating some clear boundaries and strategies around work, that can enable you to distribute your efforts and energies across the different areas in your life. What if for you, they’re all equally important? Yes, responsibilities are a big note here, because even if you want to be more present in other areas of your life, you might not feel like you have a choice. But the thing is, and on this one, I will give my opinion, you do.
You always do.
Another tool that supports this argument is to schedule personal time, the same way you schedule work. The same way you block an hour for a work meeting, block an hour for you time, whatever that is. I’ll dare to say, that maybe, like most things in life, there’s not just one answer, or a ‘right one’. Maybe we go back and forth, between the two, maybe both are true. Some months, we’re balanced, we’re making time, we’re scheduling and strategizing, but some other months… well, it’s a different story, we’re so consumed by our responsibilities and work that we’re unable to make the time to set other things in place.
I believe the common thread on both possibilities is: US – YOU.
What’s your priority? How do you want your life to look like? Do you feel like you have or want to give your all to work (for whatever reasons)? Or do you feel and want to give as equally as you’re able to all areas of your life? Your answer, and your priorities will determine how this will look like for you. Where you are and what you want in your life will determine if work-life balance is a thing (at this point) or not, because guess what, if in that moment you want it to be, you’ll make sure it is and equally if you don’t, it won’t.
The real goal is self-awareness, so wherever you are right now, you’re clear on where you want to be. And once you’re clear on where you’re going, you can implement the habits that will get you there. So have fun finding out how that looks like for you, and when it gets hard and overwhelming, breathe and know that you got it. YOU got it.