Throughout my working life I have struggled to find that elusive work-life balance. You may have waged battle with it too…trying to find time for work, play, family, and self-care in a well planned, healthy combination of meeting your needs and those of everyone around you, both at work and at home.
Does just reading this have you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and anxious? How is it possible to fit it all in? The pressure we feel around and inside ourselves to do it all, leads us down a path of “shoulds” and “expectations” that become unrealistic to achieve.
Recently I came across an article that presented an alternative to the work-life balance ideal. I want to share the concept with you in the hopes that it will take the pressure off and give you some hope for meeting your needs. I call it Whole Life Balance.
The theory is, that instead of looking for an external measure of balance, we take our cue from nature’s seasons and look within, to get to know our own unique body rhythms. From that place of knowing, we can choose what we need for ourselves to find our Whole Life Balance.
It is not perfect or equally measured. We all have times where we need to focus on home, work or self with different emphasis or concentration. It might be a work project deadline or a sick child that is calling for our attention. We might be down with the flu ourselves. A Whole Life Balance approach gives us the flexibility to focus on those priorities, but not deprive ourselves.
1. Winter – Replenish and Restore
Think of taking a break to Replenish and Restore as your personal time to prepare yourself for new growth in your life. Find your “winter” pace and give yourself some pauses throughout your days, weeks, months and year. It might be taking a walk around the block, having a cup of tea or unplugging for a time. Your time of Winter might be a time of personal loss and grief… the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship. Be sensitive to your need to Replenish and Restore as a means of healing and nourishing yourself in order to grow, embrace your life again and be there for others.
2. Spring – Create
Make space for you to be able to Create fresh ideas, projects, opportunities and new ways of living. Where and how do you get your inspiration? I need to give my ideas some space. That space is my preparation for ideas to be planted. When they are ready to emerge, just as seeds poke up out of the earth, I will come to my point of knowing. The inspiration can’t be rushed. Sometimes it is as simple as getting out of my own way, being patient, and not forcing what needs to come naturally. If you are going through the transition of divorce, allowing yourself to let go of what was in order to Create your new life will be very important. What will you need to clear before you are ready to plant?
3. Summer – Growth
This is the time of tending what you have sown and watching it grow. Maybe you are growing new ways of thinking and feeling about yourself. Take action in letting go of self-defeating thoughts. A change in your mindset can support your relationships, both old and new and nurture them. If you are working on career transition or job search, weeding out your self-defeating thoughts can build your self-confidence, how you believe in yourself and how you present yourself in that job interview. Sunshine, water and weeding are what our plants need to grow. What do you need for your growth?
4. Fall – Harvest
What you have been growing is now fully ripened. You are ready to reap the Harvest and feast on what you have planted. Celebrate what you have discovered about your own rhythms for creating a Whole Life Balance that allows you to Replenish and Restore, Create, Grow and Harvest throughout your year. Are you feeling more integrated and connected to all the different parts of your life? Work, home, friends, family and self are not meant to be compartmentalized into separate boxes. They are all part of the wholeness, healing and fullness of our lives.
The fifth step of finding your own Whole Life Balance is feeling and expressing your Gratitude for the gifts that you continually bring to the process! Knowing what we need through the seasons of our lives is the greatest gift of all. Let others support you on your journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts about reframing the Work – Life Balance ideal into a Whole Life Balance way of living.