Why work-life balance is a whole bunch of barn manure
Marco Houwen has long been the “Internet and Cloud guy” in Luxembourg. His atypical career of more than 20 years in ICT led him onto his path today where he supports leaders at the heart of their entrepreneurial process. He does this as a strategic life coach for senior executives and entrepreneurs. Marco frequently contributes to Trans-for-nation sharing insight and his experience for practicing authentic and holistic leadership in a turbulent, disoriented world. MARCO@ZENTRAPRENEUR.COM
January 28, 2022
There are far too many consultants who pitch recycled tips about balancing our time between work and private life, including the benefits of doing this thing or using that tool. This was already a very sketchy concept before the global pandemic and is, now that kitchen tables became offices and nurseries the only place where one can withdraw from the worklife balance madness, totally unsustainable. Whenever I read about work-life balance, I simply say out loud: what a pile of cow manure!
Let’s be honest, a perfectly balanced time table between work and private life never creates fulfilment.
WHY IT’S NOT ABOUT BALANCE, IT’S ABOUT ALIGNMENT.
When we look for work-life balance we define “balance” as our goal, rather than the experiences we want to live. Our true desire does not lie in the achievement of “balance”, it lies in enjoying consistent pleasure in our private life while equally exhibiting amazing focus at work.
Being in the experience rather than trying to achieve a goal is key. Let me explain: for me, quality time with my 16 year-old daughter is sharing some of my life lessons and discussing how she would have reacted in a similar situation (that is my goal). If I strive only to achieve that goal, I am sure to get frustrated as she does not share the same objective; 16 year-old daughters typically just want to know how to solve a problem with minimal effort. When my intention is to experience quality time with her and let go of my goal, I go with the flow. This ends up with me getting to hear her stories about school or watching a Netflix series on the couch. And that is totally fine as I get what I really want out of our time together: experiencing connection with my daughter.
As work-life balance entirely misses the point of this struggle, how can we create fulfilment in both areas of our life?
Aligning what we want to experience, with who we want to be in a particular situation, is crucial. Some seek pleasure, others connection, others freedom. Accessing these experiences works when we truly align with the role (family wo/man, business tycoon, …) we want to embody in that moment.
Several years ago when I traveled the world for business, there was a consistent desire to be home with my family. When in Luxembourg with my family, I equally felt a constant pull towards what was needed to still be accomplished for my businesses. Rarely was I in the present moment consciousnessly with my body’s location.
Since 2017, I decided to change my life and I worked a lot on this exact challenge. A great example happened recently when I flew out for a ZentraAdventure, I was able to fully align who I am with what I want to experience. This allowed me to dedicate my presence to holding space for the participants’ transformation. I was in the present moment and it felt amazing.
Upon my return, I intently focused on who I want to be in those moments, a loving father and husband, and I set the intentions to truly connect with my family and it felt amazing as well.
Here is one of my rites I use to prepare for showing up for any moment… Next time you feel torn into different directions, take three deep breaths and set your intention on what it is you want to experience in a given situation (satisfaction, joy, connection, freedom …) and who you want to be in this situation (the brilliant negotiator, the loving husband, the listening friend,…). Then combine both and experience what can happen!
My bet is that you will feel an alignment like never before; ultimately it will permit you to fully celebrate the moment. Afterall, it is the only one that exists.