The Pursuit of Balance: Plain Sailing or Pushing Against the Wind?

The pursuit of balance is not always plain sailing. In fact, often it seems that finding balance is more like pushing against the wind.

I’ve observed this many times now through interviewing people for my blog.

I start each interview asking my subject to put a figure on what they perceive to be their work:life ratio and whether they aspire for it to be any different.

Of the eleven people I have asked this question of to date, six have told me that they were reasonably content with the balance they currently have between work and everything else in their lives.

Those that told me that they were not content with their balance, however, seemed to face a significant personal challenge in making the changes it might take to improve their work-life balance. Seeking out their desired balance seemed to go against their natural inclinations to behave in a certain way. That’s not to say that it would be impossible for them to change their work:life balance ratio; but doing so would require making a concerted and conscious effort.

How does a person decide on their priorities? From the small decisions, like whether to leave work promptly and make it home for bath time, or to linger on later in the office; or whether to complete a work assignment over the weekend instead of meeting up with friends? To the big decisions, like whether to pursue a career that involves travelling away from home; or giving up work to commit to caring responsibilities?

How we set our priorities is wrapped up in who we are.

This seems to be because the choices we make about how we spend our time are so intrinsically linked to our natural preferences, our experiences, and subsequently the value we place on one aspect of life over another when we have to choose between them.

It would be interesting to revisit some of my subjects in years to come to follow up on their stories and see if those that wanted to make changes actually made them. And what it took to do so.

How about you? Is pursuing a balanced life plain sailing, or are you pushing against the wind?

2 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Balance: Plain Sailing or Pushing Against the Wind?

  1. Hi Dalya

    I love reading your blog and find myself identifying with many of the comments and observations made by the interviewees. It started me reflecting on my own work-life balance from the perspective of a retiree (now retired for over two and a half years). I am not sure if spending the early years at home with my children before going back to full time work when they were older would count as a work-life balance. When I look back at my working life I realised that I had a different formula for my work-life balance. Because we changed countries moving back from Canada to Israel when my children were still very young I decided to stay at home while my children adjusted to their lives in a new country and a new language. During that time, I ran a couple of home-based businesses not just for financial reasons but because I needed another outlet. When my kids were old enough to be able to stay at home after school alone I went back to work in stages working part time at home and part time at the office, finally returning to work full time at the office as my career progressed. I think actually there was a part of me that always felt that I was playing catch-up with my career and I only realised it when my family complained about the number of hours I was putting in. However, there was also the element that I enjoyed what I was doing too and that I felt that my own self worth improved. I think that what I am trying to say is that one can achieve a work life balance not on a daily basis but over the long term. Just a different perspective.

    Hope you are all safe and well

    Warm wishes Ruth


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience Ruth – a really interesting perspective indeed to be able to look back over the full span of your working life and the blance highs and lows. I really hope that the insight my blog helps people imagine what you’re describing over the long-term. So often in the thick of the busy-ness and chaos of juggling work and family, it’s hard to see as clearly as you describe. I’m so pleased you enjoy reading my blog and love hearing your comments – keep them coming! Perhaps one day I’ll convert them into a blog post of their own : )


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