Updated: Mar 8
"I really want to do healing work professionally, but I have young kids and I feel bad if I can't be there for them. How do I balance my work and life?" I hear the question come up a lot. Sometimes it's from students asking how to start a healing practice, other times it's from clients who are artists, designers, or other small business owners, struggling to feel sane in the life they've created. Right now the popular thing among rising female entrepreneurs is to say, " Balance doesn't exist! It's a lie!" I don't believe that. I think it's something we say to make ourselves feel better. Balance is real, and it's attainable. I do, however, think the definition of balance needs to be redefined.
People often think of balance as a static state. We imagine the kid sitting quietly at the center of the teeter toter rather than bouncing up and down, back and forth. Instead, I'd like to invite you to think of balance as dynamic. Envision the pendulum of a grandfather clock swinging, causing the clock to tell time. Dynamic balance is really how life moves forward. When we take steps forward, we are actually falling forward and catching ourselves with our feet. When we work a long day, we sleep at night to repair. Moments of total stillness are ephemeral at best, and they allow us glimpses of the life we are creating.
Dynamic balance is something you can easily create in your life, and it begins with good boundaries. Burning out from too many responsibilities in either work or family is a sign that your dynamic balance is off. It may be time to check your work-life boundaries.
HOW TO FIX BALANCE ISSUES
To establish better balance in your life, you've got to have boundaries around (a) the sacred time that is just for your work, (b) the sacred time that is just for family, and (c) the sacred time that is for you to integrate on your own.
When you're working, just work. It's not the time to send texts every five minutes answering your babysitter. It's not the time to confirm dinner plans, or message long-lost friends. If you're needing that time, create a separate space for it. On the other hand, when you're at home, focus on your family and loved ones. It isn't the time to catch up on paperwork you forgot, or to make last minute phone calls.
Sometimes you may break the rules. Sometimes a call needs to happen, or dinner needs to be confirmed. That's okay. After all, it's your life. But the more you honor the boundaries that you set around these designated times, the easier it is for others to see, understand, and also value your time in these spaces.
HEALING THE MINDSET
I believe our society has, since birth, encouraged men to set the boundaries where they need, and to pride the time they spend at work without feeling guilty about what they're missing. Men are often taught to "Bring home the bacon." I'm not saying this always happens, or even that it's the most healthy teaching, but I think it is a cultural teaching that men should have pride in the time they spend at work, and to feel good about whatever time they might spend with family. As a result, the work-life balance isn't something that comes up as often when men are beginning their entrepreneur journey. Even when they have big families, men also get a lot more social support around it. Partners have been taught to honor work needs. Parents have been taught to be extra proud if a man is achieving his work goals. In other words, balance is not taught, but men are rewarded if they managed to show up in both work and life.