A few days ago, a was speaking to a group of business majors about professional development. Somewhere in the sea of what-ifs and interesting scenarios that we were talking about, we got on the topic of work-life balance. For these students, they called it the class-life balance. I don't care what you call it. It is like coffee with creamer. One part is fairly unpleasant yet necessary, but the other part makes it better. Depending on who you are, you can read that either way.
When we started talking about the work-life balance or the class-life-balance, we were talking about how one student's father would like her to play music more. She is typically busy with work, class and a social life. I asked her if she loves music. She does, but she hate to practice. I can sympathize. I loved performances, but practicing on my own was enough to make me gag. If you have something that is hard work, yet it brings you joy, you should still consider it as part of your balance.
The next question and comment that arose was about me. Have you mastered the work-life balance? Hell no. I am fairly certain that No one has mastered this. At 5:00 pm, I may walk away from my desk, but that doesn't mean my brain is off. That doesn't mean that I stop being an employee of my company for the next 16 hours. That doesn't mean that I don't talk to my co-workers. That doesn't mean that I don't check my email.
I would say that most of the opportunities that I am afforded outside of work are at least 50% because of work. I make enough of a name for myself at work that I can take that and go to different organizations in the community and say, I'm from this company and I accomplish all of these things. I can really help your cause. People tend to remember that and your company favorably.
Every night that I go home and try to relax, I think about what I need to do the next day, what I should wear, what barriers I may face in the day, and how I will overcome my challenges. It is difficult for me to shut my brain off. I think some people have an easier time when they just aren't as passionate about what they are doing. When you love what you do or what you represent, you give it just a little more space in your heart and mind than it probably needs.
I really am trying to improve on my balance. I don't do yoga and I really suck at meditating. I love to read, but I eventually end up putting a book down to go do something that needs to get done. What I am trying to do is step outside of my comfort zone. I am challenging myself to go somewhere that I am afraid to go. I am challenging myself to meet people that I am afraid to meet. I am letting that fear of the new take some of that space away. I am not letting work control me anymore. I am letting me control all parts of my world, even when it is scary.