If Work-Life Balance Isn't Realistic, Try This Instead.
We hear a lot about work-life balance. It’s a nice catchall phrase that tries to explain the daily attention we place on both our work and home life. Can you give equal attention to a career and a family all of the time? I don’t think you can realistically.
Instead, I prefer the practice of work-life harmony. This phrase invokes the idea that you should enjoy work and life at the rhythm that makes the most sense for you and what’s taking place in your life at any given time. In fact, more people in the business world have embraced the idea of work-life harmony over work-life balance. And research continues to find that applying work-life harmony principles in the workplace improves employee productivity, including creative thinking and problem solving.
Work-life harmony is a constant dance between you and the worlds of work and of family. But the two can co-exist. To help me cultivate work-life harmony in my own life and to help other entrepreneurs and business leaders do the same, I developed a concept I call, the B3 Method.
Knowing you B's.
Business: This is not about what you do for business, but rather how you pursue your professional goals, and how you face and overcome the numerous challenges along the way. Everyone has business or career problems at some time. But often we don’t know how to deal with them, and it ends up hurting our work and lives. For example, this could be spending too much time on your business and not devoting enough time to yourself or family. Or this could be not getting the promotion you were striving for at work.
Balance: A balance is the physical or mental activity (or sometimes both) you need in life. Not only is it a way to separate the topsy-turvy business world from your personal life, but you can also utilize balance to help you during challenging business times. Your balance outlet could be going to the gym every day at lunch or regularly meeting with a book club that’s focused on personal and career development.
Bliss: The way I think about bliss is that it’s the way you maintain your new-found balance. In short, bliss is the tools and habits you need to stay on track and focused so you can let your balance activity do its job of providing you with work-life harmony and happiness. Bliss could be making sure that your calendar is blocked off each day for your gym time and making sure your employees know that it’s sacrosanct. Or it could be asking your family to support you as you take a few hours each Saturday to meet with your book club.
Find your balance.
So how do you get started in applying the B3 Method to your own life? Your first step is to find your balance -- that physical or mental outlet. Most people already know their balance, if they ask themselves the right questions.
These questions and brainstorming ideas can help you identify activities you are passionate about or that can recharge you.
What is your fantasy job, even if it’s not realistic?
What is something you have dreamed about trying, but talked yourself out of doing?
Look to your childhood for inspiration. What did you enjoy doing as a child? It doesn’t matter if it was a team sport, arts and crafts, or board games. What activity was always fun and made you happy?
Consider a complementary activity. If you enjoy music, but not learning how to play an instrument, embrace something related, like collecting vintage records or guitars, or even regularly attending concerts.
Make a creativity board. Fill a large poster or bulletin board with a collage of images, quotes, articles, and people that you find inspiring. As your board evolves, you will begin to note a pattern of what interests you.
Using bliss to maintain your balance.
Once you adopt and embrace your balance outlet, you can then use it to find your bliss -- or the way that you maintain your new activity so that you feel the benefit over time.
My balance, for example, is yoga. One of the many lessons I have learned from yoga is to remember to breathe. We are in stressful situations each day at work, and we forget to breathe. It seems so simple, however, yoga reminds me how the power of the breath can possibly change my body’s autonomic nervous system, which lowers my stress levels so I can think more clearly and make smarter business decisions.
My bliss is to sustain this yoga practice of remembering to breathe at work. I have found it’s as simple as a calendar notification or writing a Post-it note that is always kept in sight as a reminder to stop and take grounding breaths throughout the day.
By incorporating the B3 Method in my own life and business, I’ve experienced greater work-life harmony and so have my employees. So begin by finding your balance using the questions above. Then commit to it, and as you do, focus on the skills that work for you. Then decide how you can maintain your new-found balance activity so you can feel the benefit -- the bliss -- that comes from regular practice or creating a good habit. Over time, these tools will not only help you get through difficult situations in business but they will also help you begin on the path to create greater work-life harmony.