Two-term President Theodore Roosevelt led our country into the tumultuous 20th century, one that was filled with world conflict and sweeping social change.
A century later, we find ourselves in the midst of a technological revolution that is breathtaking in its scope as we live two lives, one in the real world and one online. And like a ghost from the past, Roosevelt comes back to warn us of the dangers of this dual life.
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” he once said.
In today’s two-tiered society, experts believe that we derive many of our expectations and core beliefs from what we ingest through technology and marketing.
Unfortunately, we tend to stack up our own non-fiction lives against the “scripts” we see portrayed in the posts of our Facebook friends and the fictional marketing campaigns waged by Madison Avenue that say we can – and should – have it all.
Especially when it comes to finding a healthy balance between work and home.
This search is an extremely personal journey and should be decided by internal factors, not external ones. We as human beings thrive on contact and connection; it is at the core of our being, but we also crave success, wealth and power. These two drives do not always mesh together seamlessly, which makes this search more difficult.
It is hard to define exactly what a healthy work-life balance looks like because one size does not fit all. The easiest way to define it is by what it is not.
It is not an exact balance
We have hundreds of decisions to make daily as professionals, parents, spouses and adults. It is foolish to hold that image of the Lady of Justice in our minds, trying to keep both scales in alignment. Our personal and professional lives are too unpredictable, and life, overall, should be more fun and unpredictable than that!
It is not set in stone
The work-life balance of a single person is not the same as that of a married person. We have to think of it as more of a “fluid” idea.
It is not perfect
Having unrealistic expectations and thinking of the balance in finite terms only will lead to disappointment. Life is a journey, and if a healthy work-life balance is a priority for you, then you must use that idea as a map for that journey.
I compare my own pursuit of a healthy work-life balance to a puzzle with four important pieces that fit together. If any are missing, the puzzle is not complete.
This idea was difficult for me at first because I’m a “see-it-and-do-it” type of person. I’m not one to plan, so scheduling my day around my priorities was a difficult goal to reach. But this pursuit should be about the journey, and it has been a great journey, so that lets me know I may be doing something right.
There are two kinds of people: those who do, and those who “say” they do. The best ideas in the world are just that, ideas, until someone finds the strength to act on them. This is especially important in your pursuit of a healthy work-life balance.
I draw my strength to execute daily from many different places, but mostly from the people I make my first priority: my wife and daughters. I can happily say that any potential indifference to a healthy work-life balance was left in the hospital after my girls were born. They answered that ever-elusive question of why such a balance was important and kept my eyes firmly on the road at all times.
Each one of us has individual measurements when it comes to achieving a healthy work-life balance. Mine is a simple one: Am I trying my best to always progress, not regress?
I refuse to allow stress to play a major role in my life because it can be a deal breaker when it comes to achieving a healthy work-life balance. Stress can sear us as quickly as a spreading forest fire. That is why I pray for the strength to live everyday to the fullest. Through good friends and simple trial and error, I have found success in this last piece of the puzzle.
Most importantly, none of the balance we are trying so hard to achieve means anything if we are not happy and enjoying the journey. I do my best to remember that I can positively or negatively affect those around me. I want to be that person whom others want to be around and work with on a daily basis. I also want to be a role model for my girls.
Of course, I have long-term and short-term goals I use as reference points, but make no mistake. My journey is a daily one, as I believe it should be for most of us. I take a little time each day to reflect upon how I did that day and how tomorrow I can do better – without beating myself up too badly!
Focus on these simple concepts. They are not overwhelming to implement. Do it for you and the ones you love. You will never regret trying to find a healthy work-life balance that works for you!