Every time I hear someone profess to know the secret to work/life balance, I bristle. First, there is no such thing as work/life balance, and second, there are no easy answers to finding a comfortable position in life when you are continually growing and changing.
I’m not sure it was ever possible to separate your personal and professional lives, but it was probably more likely before the age of the Internet and social media. In the past, people had their jobs, and then they went home to family and friends. You never really knew what went on behind closed doors, once an employee left the office, the only way for his colleagues to see his misbehavior is if they came to the family BBQ and witnessed his behavior after a few too many beers.
Unless you are one of those people for whom this equation works comfort=happiness, you are going to have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. When you put yourself in a place of discomfort, doing something out of your normal routine, you grow. As long as you stay in your routine, comfortable and generally unchallenged, you will stagnate. The only way to grow and improve, the only way to reach your goals and make your dream life is to step out of that comfort zone and take some risks.
To have stories to tell, you must make them first.
If you feel like your work and life are balanced, it may mean you are compartmentalizing. That’s not always a bad thing, but it isn’t something that is sustainable. When we compartmentalize, we are separating our thoughts and feelings into distinct categories, home vs. work, which means that we are not addressing the underlying issues and concerns in our overall lives. Our brains are most effective and efficient when all of the parts are interacting and engaging. According to Melissa Hughes in her book, Happy Hour with Einstein:
While specific regions of the brain are responsible for specific things, we are aware that the brain functions as a whole system. The better the regions integrate with each other, the better they all work independently.
If you really want change; if you really want to do something different with your life, stop working so hard for balance, and try being unbalanced for a while. Take risks; take the leap, and realize true growth.
Sarah Elkins is a professional coach and consultant, helping people and businesses improve their communication through the art of storytelling. She’s also the President of Elkins Consulting, the company making a splash with small, face-to-face, affordable interactive conferences called No Longer Virtual.
Originally published at medium.com