Work-Life Balance: Fact or Fiction?

does work life balance exist
does work life balance exist

Once upon a time, I was on a fast downward spiral inside of a gray cubicle.  I wanted so desperately to make an impact with my work that I let it overtake my life and nearly destroy everything else that was good.  I was driven to succeed at all costs.

And it nearly cost me everything.

My husband was considering leaving me, the only time I spent with friends was at happy hour drinking away a dissatisfying work week, and nightly takeout and coffee overload was taking a toll on my energy levels and my waistline. 

I loved my work and was great at it, but wasn’t there something more?  I desperately craved true connections with family and friends, nutrition & exercise that left me feeling confident in my own skin, dates with my husband, traveling without constantly checking my work email, time to ENJOY the life I was creating.  I was working so hard to have these things, but I was totally neglecting them in the process.

I wanted a balance between work and life, that ever-elusive corporate buzzword: work-life balance

My company, all my professional networking groups, and everything I read about happiness for the corporate, working woman touted balance as the solution to all my problems.  And while the idea of balance always seemed dreamy and idyllic, there’s something about it that alluded me for years.

Here’s the thing:

Balance implies equilibrium, a state where all things are equal.  That’s not a reality.

In all my roles, from my environmental consulting gig to my stint teaching high school to my work in the government to my years in IT, I never felt like I’d found a balance.  And yet, aside from the soul-sucking consulting job, I was remarkably happy and growing happier as I job-hopped along trying to find my place. 

Here’s what I’ve learned:

There will be late nights at work scrambling to meet some crazy, unreasonable deadline.

There will be lazy Sundays spent binge-watching reruns of Househunters International and dreaming of foreign places while in bed, ordering takeout. 

There will be weeks where you meal prep and execute like a champ, and others where the plan you made on Sunday goes to shit on Monday.

There will be a morning gym routine that’ll get ignored when you’re just too damn tired to get out of bed.

There will be family vacations that feel like a dream and others you can’t wait to be over so you can get back to work.

Balance, in the traditional sense, is a myth – all things will never be equal. But I found a version of balance that’s just right for me… and there’s one that’s just right for you, too.