Let me say it again: Work/Life balance is a myth.
Can I get an amen?
Whether you're a solopreneur, a small business owner or employee, a full-time volunteer, or the head of a multi-national corporation, you've been in search of this "white whale" for too long. And, friends, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't exist.
You've known this truth in your heart, but for so long, you dreamed of finding it—maybe at the end of the rainbow. It's kept you awake at night. You could even swear that you once met someone who said their cousin found it for a short-time, but then lost it. You've listened to podcasts, read books, joined groups, and prayed really hard, but that elusive work/life balance has continued to evade you.
Is there no hope?
Fear not. There is another . . .
I was introduced to this concept several years ago at a conference. I wish I could remember who taught it, because he/she has improved my life immensely with this idea, but sadly, I do not know who to credit.
The crux of the matter is that we can never achieve work/life balance. One will always be in conflict with the other. Despite our best efforts, it's a constant see-saw effect, and many of us tend to dip to the work side, even with our intense desire for the opposite.
Then comes along the notion of rhythm. According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, rhythm is "movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements."
I love the mental images this definition projects. I picture ocean waves. I find it relaxing, and that in itself is enough to make me chase this notion.
Think about it. When you consider the idea of "work/life rhythm," you are allowing for what is actually possible. And this means there is hope!
The most basic approach is one you're probably already familiar with, and that is thinking about life in the form of seasons. By reframing your time this way, you intuitively understand that there is a beginning and end to the periods of stress and madness.
Rhythm in Work
These are the seasons we're probably more familiar with. And I'm in one of those right now. I've been up late most nights and on the weekends trying to catch up on client and personal work because I was down with the flu for a couple of weeks. So, I've been working my tail off to keep my head above water, and feel like I'm back up to speed on what I need to be doing. It's an effort to become more proactive than reactive. I'm not finished with this season yet, but I think I will be soon.
Obviously, some of these seasons last longer than others. Maybe you're in event planning mode. Maybe you have a launch right around the corner. Maybe you just had a staffer leave. Or maybe it's just one of the crazy times of year for your business. Inevitably, it happens.
The point is to hunker down, work hard, and make the best of it. No, it probably won't be fun. But it also won't last forever. The wave is crashing on the shore all around you right now, but there will come a time when it rolls back off the sand. You can do this!
Rhythm in Life
These are the seasons when we have more time for friends and family. We take vacations. We leave the office a little early. We go to the movies. We're having a lot more fun. And honestly, these are the times we wish could last a lot longer than they do.
But, alas, it's only a season. Before we know it, our calendars and To Do lists will be full, and our attention will be pulled in a million directions. The tide turns once again. I'm not trying to be a downer, but I am offering some perspective.
The point of this season is to, first and foremost, appreciate it! Whatever you do to show thankfulness, now's the time! Be grateful, and enjoy every minute of it. Next, consider what things you can do during this period of time to get ahead. Put systems in place, work ahead, sharpen your skills, develop your team, etc. There are numerous ways to utilize this time so that the hard seasons are a little bit easier. Use the margin in your schedule to your advantage.
You may be wondering what this post is doing on a blog about marketing and communications for cause-focused organizations. Fair question.
I think this post points to self-care, which I think is essential for everyone, but especially those who lead in, and serve at, nonprofits and purpose-drive for-profits. When we are led by a strong, social mission, it's easy to drive ourselves into the ground. After all, the work is never done. The champion of a cause can always do more. But the champion is also of little use to the cause if he/she is suffering from burnout.
I'm here to help you look and sound better to those who support, purchase from, or donate to your organization. I want you to get noticed and grow. And to do that, you need to make whatever season you're in right now work for you, not against you.
Work/life balance is a myth. However, work/life rhythm is guaranteed.
If you redefine this concept in your mind, you'll be more equipped for your current season, better prepared for the next, and happier overall.
Stop chasing the white whale, and instead, find your rhythm.
If you're reading this post, it likely means you're at a point where you're feeling overwhelmed. If so, I have more good news! I've outlined five things you can stop doing today to jumpstart your organization's marketing and communications. That's right—five things you can cut out this week to free up your time, energy and focus. What are you waiting for?
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I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.