Is there a secret to work-life balance?
"Do any one of you feel like you have a really good life-work balance? I would love to hear your secrets for success. Believe it or not, sometimes I struggle with this!" This wonderful, sincere question was posted by a friend on Facebook yesterday. She is one of the most thoughtful, loving people I know and I can tell she has genuine concern about finding balance in her life. With her permission, I'm going to share with you my response with a little added expansion.
I think the challenge with the word balance is that it implies equal doses of all things at all times, that each day we get it all with harmony and ease. I'm not sure I know anyone who has that.
Perhaps when we say we are seeking balance, what we are really longing for is life satisfaction. This is not to say that life will always be easy and free from bumps along the road. We all know that's not how our experience here is meant to be. It means, overall, do I find my choices, my actions, my work, my relationships satisfying? Do they fill my heart with joy? Do I greet each aspect of my life with passion, excitement and eagerness for most days?
In yoga, one of the practices is svadhyaya, which on a basic level means self-study. More than just a get-to-know-myself type of practice, the intention is to move to a deeper understanding of your true Self in a spiritual manner. So, when I pose some questions in a moment relating to finding richer life satisfaction, I encourage you to look for deeper answers. I'll give an example or two to help clarify what I mean.
Some other questions to ask yourself beyond life-work balance are:
"What is it I'm wanting more/less of? (Example: more time with family, less time at work is a quick, easy answer for most. The deeper answer might be something more along the lines of I am wanting more meaningful experiences with my family when I am with them or I want to feel fully present and engaged with my children and for us all to feel the abundance of love we share.)
Can I make those changes now to achieve what I am desiring? Sometimes this is a scary one because we don't want to admit we'd rather work part-time or not at all or move into a new and unfamiliar career and perhaps learn to live with less money. Studying and truly understanding yourself with the help many of the great spiritual texts can help you realize you are not your things, your job title or your bank account. When you "get" that, it can be easier to move in the direction of the life your soul is desiring, not the one society implies you are supposed to have.
Can I be at peace with those things I cannot change right now?
Am I satisfied and fulfilled by my life experiences? If not, what do I need to do, change or adjust so that I am?
What does satisfaction and fulfillment look or feel like to me? This is your own personal journey. The more you get to know yourself, the more this answer will unfold. I think many of us choose paths based on what our parents did or expected us to do rather than really purposefully creating a life we love, a life that is meaningful to us and again, one that is satisfying and rich with experience.
Am I fully present and immersed/engaged in life and the joy it brings?
The only person who can answer these questions for you is you. The great news is that your answers already lie within, you already have everything you need. It can take courage to begin on the path of svadhyaya and sometimes reaching out to a teacher for guidance or suggestions is wise. You will be naturally drawn to one if this is the case for you.
I have done much of this inner work myself and over the last several years have found that feeling of "yes, this is the life I want. I LOVE my days, my work as a teacher, my role as a wife and home maker, and living simply from a place of 'want to' vs. 'have to'."
The life you want is available to you now. Trust that. Go bravely towards your answers, your heart, your soul. Miracles will unfold.
If you enjoyed or were inspired by what you read, please comment below, Like, Share, Pin and Tweet. With Gratitude, Cathy