How do you prioritize work-life balance in today’s world? Does it look and feel different now than it did prior to 2020?
As a holistic practitioner + entrepreneur, the concept of balance can sometimes feel laughable, particularly when you know through lived experience that the unique pressures + expectations that come with being one’s own boss is unlike anything you’ve probably experienced as an employee.
Take, for example, the background of this particular post you’re reading… it’s late Sunday night (ok… “late” is subjective… it’s 10pm) in front of the computer; words being jotted, erased, re-written, scrapped altogether, critiqued, re-read (and so on) between runs to the grill outside to flip food, check for doneness, port back to the kitchen, wait for it all to cool to toss in the fridge for meals for the next few days.
Is this work-life balance? Or is it multi-tasking chaos? What drives these decisions?
Sometimes, you squeeze in what you can, when you can. And that feels good! Not just good enough, but GOOD. Other times, you plan meticulously to get all the things done, and all goes to plan. And that also feels good!
And then there are the hours, days, even weeks, when life requires more of your time, energy and attention than your business does: someone falls ill; you or someone you love celebrates a milestone; a trip takes you far and away. Or maybe your body and brain simply need deep rest from all the scrambling.
And of course, there are similar hours, days, weeks when your business requires you to center it in your time, energy + attention: you’re preparing for a launch; you need to make up for lost income due to client cancellations the week prior; you have a run of important meetings for your business growth. Or maybe you’re inspired and in a creative burst of flow that you need to ride because you know it’s not ALWAYS like that.
This is why balance feels like a misnomer when it comes to work + life. Or at least an unsustainable model. Or, at worst, completely unattainable.
Imagine placing work + life on the scales of justice.
BALANCE implies a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions, so that those elements would be in identical standing on the scale. However, anytime the scale is tipped one way or the other (you know, life on one side grows heavier, or work on the other side suddenly has more of your time), then what? The two are imbalanced.
If this is how we actually measured our priorities, we’d rarely feel a work-life balance. Quite the contrary. We’d constantly be battling to keep everything equal. And likely seeing all the ways the scales are tipped…
So, we get that it’s a concept and not a literal weighing of time + proportion, but does it do us any good to chase something that is so tricky to actualize? It sounds exhausting.
Perhaps what we’re all really seeking + striving for instead is HARMONY.
In musical terms, you know harmony as the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords/ progressions, having a pleasing effect. Outside of music though, and particularly in the context of work-life, harmony is quite simply:
the quality of forming a pleasing + consistent whole.
And isn’t this at the heart of everything we do as HOLISTIC practitioners?
Just like your mind, body and spirit collaborate, so do your work and life conspire for a pleasing + consistent experience. And sometimes, to make music with these elements, one aspect may (for a progression) be louder, take up more space + time, and hold your attention. Then, a new refrain. And here we hear the same elements, but perhaps at a different volume + cadence.
Certainly, dissonance can occur. Yet, tweak a note or two here + there, and the resonance, the HARMONY, returns. Not as tricky to actualize. Not exhausting.
Balance runs the risk of creating pressure + perfectionism. Harmony runs the risk of creating pleasure + wholeness. Which do you prefer?
What would it feel like to form a pleasing and consistent wholeness in life + work, and let go of needing everything to carry a perfectly equal weight at all times?
Here’s to making more sweet music for as many songs as we can in this work-time and lifetime together.
And now? Time for a lullaby.
Written by Cari Rogers, co-owner of Tribe and founder of HealThySelf. Cari loves to partner with people who believe that the body has an incredible capacity to heal under the right circumstances and with the right support.