Busyness Versus Work Life Balance

Untitled designGuest post from Sandra at www.sandraswancoaching.com

The eighties saw a surge in the view that success meant being superhuman. Being and doing everything, because we wanted to do, and have everything.

What has the cost been? In my work with midlife professionals and small business owners I’ve noticed the majority feel like they’re on a hamster wheel they can’t get off, and work/life balance is about as likely as winning the lottery.

Yes, we know we can pull out the cape every now and again. But should busy be the new yardstick for success?

Hanna Rosin recently wrote an article for Slate.com entitled ‘You’re Not as Busy as You Say You Are’.
Did you feel your hackles rise?

‘The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. These are not exactly humble brags. They are more like fretful brags, and they are increasingly becoming the idiom of our age.’

In her new book,’Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time’, Washington Post reporter Brigid Schulte writes

“Busyness is a virtue, so people are terrified of hearing they may have empty time. It’s like being told that you’re obsolete.”

Ann Burnett studies how the language we use creates our reality.

“It’s about showing status. That if you’re busy, you’re important. You’re leading a full and worthy life. … As if you don’t get to choose, busyness is just there. I call it the nonchoice choice. Because people really do have a choice.”

Brene Brown, TED speaker, researcher and author puts another spin on the busyness phenomenon

“Crazy-busy is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.”

The pace of life has increased with the internet and mobile devices creeping into our homes, and even our beds. How often do you use the quiet time just before the lights go out to check your emails or plan your schedule for the next day?

I recently spoke with a male friend who’s just been promoted. He said his biggest decision so far has been whether to accept the laptop that came with the job. You see he knows it’s a potential life changing decision.

“On the plus side, I’ll have a laptop. But it means I’ll never get away from work. They’ll be able to contact me whenever they want. I don’t want to be available all the time. I need downtime. My best ideas come when I’ve had a break from it”.

His stress was palpable.

My solution to busyness
Make a new choice. Personally, I’ve redefined what success means to me.

If I’m honest, it happened by accident! I’ve been receiving regular acupuncture to help sort out my hormonal highs and lows when I realised after only a few sessions that all my body is trying to do is create balance. Balance is its optimal state for wellness. It’s constantly trying to achieve balance from the stressors and strains I regularly place on it – sugary foods, lack of regular exercise, the every day strains of modern day living (yes, there are choices to be made there too).

I realised that if my body craves balance to be at its best, then so does everything else. And I mean EVERYTHING. As well as my internal world wanting balance, including my mind and spirit, my outer world wants balance too.

I used to think that variety was the spice of life. At one point I had four jobs in a bid to satisfy my need for diversity and interest. Now I realise it wasn’t variety I sought, it was balance. A subtle, yet very important distinction. Having no family to take care of back then, I could devote myself to all four. My time was my own and I enjoyed it immensely. Now that I have a family, I can’t work that hard without all our lives being impacted.

In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, and one of the most influential women in the world writes a passionate call to arms, looking to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world. She likens our drive for money and power to two legs of a three legged stool. It may hold us up temporarily, but sooner or later we’re going to topple over. We need a third leg which she calls the Third Metric for defining success, in order to live a healthy, productive, and meaningful life.

In the film Triumph, a Muslim Imam said

“First we have to seek peace within our bodies, and within our souls. We each have to find a balance, an inner peace if we are to affect the world.”

So, these days success equals balance for me. When my inner and outer worlds are balanced, then I am truly successful, and happy for that matter. Realising balance is my formula for success has been a wonderful gift.

In my next blog, ‘How to Achieve Balance When Busyness is King’ I share six easy steps for you to do just that!

If you would like to know how I can help you achieve a better work life balance contact me and I’ll be delighted to have a conversation.


You can find out more about Sandra and the coaching services she offers at www.sandraswancoaching.com

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