Work-Life Balance – Does it Even Exist? A Non-Traditional View

work-life balance

Creating a work-life balance that fits you.

What does work-life balance look like in your life? Perhaps you’re thinking, “it’s non-existent!” No worries- life can be messy, but you can always step back and redefine it.

Right now is better than ever to be working toward a healthy work-life balance especially fitted to you. Here’s why… since the U.S. unemployment rate at a low 4.3%,  it’s difficult for employers to find qualified candidates.

The 100 best companies to work for have a number of ways to attract and keep their employees.  Employers are offering a wide range of benefit options including improved work environments, investment in employee training and development, and flex schedules that allow employees the freedom to dive into their personal passion projects.

Not only is this a great time to explore what you might be happy doing, you can create a happy and healthy work-life balance.

Defining work-life balance

As we consider what work-life balance means to us, we should make sure it is a reflection of our individual personalities, lifestyle wants, and how we are wired. Work-life balance is not, in my opinion, a one size fits all formula.

Many times when envisioning work-life balance, we dream of a life that is perfectly divided between work and play every day, week, and year. That may not be a realistic lifestyle for you depending on your particular personality.

Work-life balance for one person may look like “workaholism” to another person.

I think of work-life balance as a quality of life issue. Am I creating a schedule that allows investment in the areas of my life that I value?

IS BALANCE POSSIBLE?

work life balanceYes, balance is possible, but it may not look like you suspected. Entrepreneurs, for instance, can be very focused on work for long periods of time. They need to see a project or product through to completion, and then they play just as hard.

For an entrepreneur, this is a balanced and rewarding way to live. They love to work hard and play hard. It is part of how they are wired. It just works for them.

a non-typical work-life balance example

Shortly after I met my friend Bryan, I realized he was pretty creative, loved to learn, outgoing, and extremely intelligent. He was also a hard worker who often submerged himself in projects he was interested in.

Bryan did not have a “typical” work-life balance ratio. Bryan worked a nice, stable job with retirement and benefits at a private university. He taught the art of photography to deaf students.

At the same time, Bryan would come up with ideas that would turn into projects. Sometimes those projects kept him up all night. There were times he was so involved in a project he forgot to eat.

letting your passion set your course

One thing I noticed about Bryan – he was always busy reading and researching his options. Bryan didn’t have one idea, he had 70.

Bryan had a simple method of deciding which direction to go. He selected 2 or 3 ideas that appealed to him and then started working on each one in his spare time. Over time Bryan would find one idea advancing more than the others in terms of income, opportunity, and enjoyment.

Once Bryan saw one idea taking off, he would invest more time into that particular idea.

finding your own work-life balance

Bryan was absolutely fulfilled with the life he was living. He was contributing to the community by teaching a skill to the deaf, contributing to his financial stability by working at extra projects he was interested in, learning new skills, and creating new opportunities he was excited about and interested in.

There is a lot we can learn from Bryan’s example about creating a work-life balance you love.

Here are a few things I learned:

1. create a vision

  • While working your current job, create a vision your perfect work-life balance.
  • What peaks your interest? How can you create a plan to put that vision into your daily schedule?
  • Bryan continued to teach photography at the University, cut his living expenses, and saved his money.

2. spend your extra time doing what you enjoy

  • What do you enjoy doing? Use your free time to do it.
  • Take time to invest in yourself. Enjoy developing your skills!
  • Bryan’s eye for style and vision didn’t just apply to the art of photography. He could walk into a house and see what it could be. Looking at the structure of old houses with good “bones”, he would open up space to make the appearance a lot more appealing. This hobby created a cash runway for his dreams.

3. Create a cash runway

  • How can you save money to create a cash runway to the lifestyle you want to live?
  • While refurbishing old houses, Bryan saved his money to create a runway of cash to launch his next business idea.

4. invest in your dreams

  • What skill sets do you have that you’d like to improve or invest in?
  • Another of Bryan’s many ideas involved a high-speed printer for color packaging. He found a computer/printer application that could lay the colors precisely and faster than it could be done by hand, stayed up all night learning to program it, and got a contract with a large local company.

5. Take action

  • What needs to change in your lifestyle? Once you’ve done some research and dreaming, decide to take action and make those changes.
  • Bryan took action. Once he contracted with the company to provide his design/printing services, he quit the University and put his efforts into the photography application.
  • Even though taking this step was seen as a risk by his family, Bryan had mitigated his risk by doing research, creating a cash runway, teaching himself a new skill, and marketing it well. Bryan’s business was a huge success and he loved the new lifestyle it afforded.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE CAN BE MESSY

Bryan’s work-life balance was unruly compared to many; he didn’t work a regular schedule all the time. He might stay up all night learning a new computer language for a project he was working on. That suited Bryan perfectly.

He listened to his own internal drummer; he knew himself, his skills and what he valued.

DEFINE YOUR OWN WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Don’t let someone else define what fulfills you. Create a life you love. It might be a little messy. You might take some unexpected turns. But in the end, it will be your life, your messy, your turns.

You’ll learn more about yourself, develop your full capacities, and take action on your dreams.

Push the boundaries of what you’ve set for yourself. Are you satisfied within the areas of your life? What needs to change? Are there ideas, dreams, and opportunities that you have wanted to explore?

Take action in multiple areas and see which one takes off!