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?