Work-life balance is something we all want. As working moms we want to find that sweet spot between the time we dedicate to our career and the time we dedicate to everything else outside of work.
But do we have unreasonable expectations? Here are some common misconceptions about work-life balance that I have noticed (some of which I used to believe myself) that might hold you back.
The Meaning of Work Life Balance
The first misconception about work life balance is the actual meaning of this concept. I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on the word ‘balance’. And I will admit that I used to be one of those people.
What I Thought It Looks Like
I used to think that work-life balance can be compared to an old-fashioned weight scale. I expected life to be on the right and work on the left and both sides weighting the exact same amount every single day.
And that is a huge misconception.
What It Really Looks Like
Imagine that you are waitress in a restaurant carrying that huge round tray. You make trips with it between the kitchen and the tables that you are waiting on. Depending on how many tables you have that night as well as how many customers you are serving and what type of food they eat, each trip you take will be different. If you only have one table you will be quick and it will not require too much effort from you. However, if you have 10 tables, you will have to think about everything more strategically to make sure that you are as efficient as possible.
And this is how our lives look like. Each day is different. This is why work-life balance is not something you can be looking at from a daily perspective. To me, you have to look at it from a higher level. Look at it from a monthly or annual perspective. And see how satisfied you are with both your career and your life outside of work.
Work life balance is never going to be perfect. It’s about making sure that when you look at your life from that high level perspective you are happy and satisfied.
Real Life Examples
When I went back to work after 6 weeks of maternity leave with my first-born, my life balance was tipped towards life. That is where most of my concentration went. I was a new mom who was exhausted and was trying to navigate this whole parenting thing. I was still performing my job responsibilities, but at that time I was not looking for some extra projects to work on to further my career, nor was I thinking about taking some additional training. That took a back seat for a few months.
RELATED: 10 Biggest Time Wasters in 2019
And there might be times where work gets more attention. Think about accountants. Their busiest times are between January and April. During that time they work a lot of hours. And this would not be the time where they would plan on taking a family vacation. This would be the time were work requires a lot of dedication and they would plan that family vacation for later in the year.
So depending on where you are in your life, what type of work you do, and the age of your kids (and many more different factors) your balance is going to look different.
Work Life Balance Is About Your Ability To Do Everything
And that is absolutely false. A few weeks ago I read this quote by David Allen: You can do anything but not everything! That is so true!
I think some women have this misconception that we need to do everything in each area of our lives in order to be happy and satisfied with the work-life balance. We need to be exceptional at our career, we need to attend every single PTO activity, we need to have a home cooked meal every single night…
We keep on adding on to our waitress tray. And we do that, what is going to happen is that we will eventually either trip over, or completely loose our balance and drop everything.
Work life-balance is not about adding to your tray. Is about choosing what is important and concentrating on that.
Here are some additional resources to help with the work life balance concept:
Other People Have It All Together
Based on what we see on social media we have a tendency to believe that other people have it all together. We see posts from celebrities, influencers, and even our friends that lead us to believe that they have mastered the art of work-life balance. And we start feeling bad about ourselves, because our lives are more of a hot mess express.
I promise you that is not the case. NOBODY has it all figured out. We all have our struggles. We have different lifestyles and responsibilities. Just because you see a snippet of someone else’s life on social media, it does not mean that this is how their life looks like.
Everybody is just like you. Working hard every day to live the best life that they can.
If People Around Us Are Happy, Then We Have a Great Work-Life Balance
We have the misconception that satisfaction of other people is the measurement of how good we are with our work-life balance.
Let’s look at it from a perspective of a working mom. If your boss is happy with your performance at work, your spouse (and you) are happy with your relationship, and you and your kids are satisfied with the amount of quality time you spend together, then you have a great work life balance.
Now, don’t get me wrong. That is all important.
But what we tend to forget about in this work-life balance equation, is ourselves. Are we happy? Do we have enough time for doing things just for ourselves? Do you have enough time for self-care and hobbies? And do you have time to go after your dreams?
So when you work on your work-life balance make sure you remember to put yourself into that equation. Because if you don’t you will ultimately experience that mental burnout. You will find yourself not happy with yourself and your life and that is obviously not something that you want. So make sure you don’t forget about YOU.
Work-Life Balance Looks the Same for Everyone
What do I mean by that? I like to watch videos and read blog posts from other moms who talk about topics like productivity, time management, and work life balance. And that is awesome, because that give me ideas on what I should implement into my own life.
However, what we should not be doing is believing that if we apply everything the other person is doing we will be as successful as they are. Instead, what you should be doing is while you are observing what another person is doing, take a step back and think whether this can be applied to your lifestyle
Because nobody’s life is the same as your. You will have different family dynamics, You have a different career. And your circumstances are different as well. So what works for them might now work for you.
So go ahead and get inspiration from other people. Try out their tips. But if it does not work for you, don’t beat yourself up that you did something wrong. If it does not work, it’s simply because your lifestyle and your priorities are different.
What misconceptions did you have about work-life balance? What is your biggest struggle when it comes to balancing your career with your life outside of your work?