Feeling like you can't fit it all in? Fear not. Health and happiness may depend on not trying to.
Last month, I spoke with Stephanie Collins, CPCC, founder of JumpSpark Coaching & Consulting, in preparation for Natural Products Expo West. She’d be leading a session on the importance of “life-work balance” … or so I thought. “I try to defeat the myth that everything has to be perfectly balanced,” she told me, as I frantically rummaged through my notes to confirm that this was in fact the same Stephanie Collins who would be leading the same session reinforcing that being in balance—not imbalanced—leads to better health. "Life-work balance is an old buzzword," she said.
I was brought back to my conversation with Collins this morning, reading a study that seemed to contradict yet another common notion: Americans who work more may actually be happier, it concluded. Well then, is the link between balance and well-being antiquated?
As I’m writing this, I get an email that brings a creeping sense of anxiety. Subject line: Manage your priorities more effectively and add hours back into your day! (How did I get on this list, anyway?) In my experience, when you worry so much about fitting everything in—or not—you can create unhealthy stress levels that further throw off that equilibrium you’re seeking. (If you can't recognize this, check out our article on how to know if stress levels are too high.) Not to mention interfere with getting stuff done.
Depending on who you are (and where you work) working overtime, may or may not make you more fulfilled. Either way, stressing over working overtime instead of doing x is even worse. Same holds true for stressing over doing x instead of working overtime. Sure, balance is ideal. It’s also unrealistic, which is why Collins advises asking yourself one question: “Where am I right now?” Because in this moment, imbalance could very well be the perfect, uh, balance. And for me, when things one day change from fitting an episode of bad reality TV or a good book into a busy work schedule, staying active, and spending time with friends and family, to making sure I have time to shuttle kids and deal with a mortgage (plus all of the above), this equilibrium may very well shift again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have deadlines to meet—and I’ll probably be working late.