Balance scale

When I use the word balance, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of one those old-fashioned balance scales which were used to measure coins or postage. Many of us today consider balance to be two things that have equal weight. In work and life, the tendency is to make each part of our lives equal to each other.

Rhythm & Decisions

Viewed this way, I don’t believe balance is something we should strive for – I don’t want my work and family to be equal. I value my work, but my family will always come first. Rather than equating balance with time, it’s more helpful to frame our time according to a life rhythm that we establish by the decisions we make. This rhythm is shaped by deciding to which things we say yes and no – by saying yes to one thing, to which things are you saying no?

Changing Seasons

Rhythms will change based on the season of life. Some seasons are easier than others and none of them last forever. It’s okay to spend more time investing in your home and family when your children are small. It’s wise to set healthy expectations with your family when your career demands more time than it once did. Be sure your rhythm aligns with your current season.

An Alternative Visual

While the phrase work/life balance is intended to be helpful – and it is helpful in addressing the health of a work-obsessed culture – it can be somewhat misleading. Perhaps a work/life rhythm is more accurate, even if it doesn’t catch on as a buzzword. Rather than a physical scale, a more helpful visual could be that of written music – a half note is different from a quarter note and an eighth rest, but the line of music played together results in a single song. The same length of notes played again and again are certainly equal, but writing music this way misses the point of composing a song with meaning.

As a coach, I have the opportunity to help individuals find their rhythm. Doing so helps each person take steps toward achieving what she has defined as success – and I find that to be truly rewarding.

If you enjoyed this article, listen to my guest appearance on the Girls 4 Greatness podcast.