5 Reasons You're Unable To Achieve Work-Life Balance

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Work-life balance doesn't have to be elusive. It's not a fairytale or an impossible dream. It's real, and it can be real for you if you understand the reasons it's eluding you. 

Work-life balance has become one of those buzz terms that we all think we know the meaning of. But the truth is, there is no one answer. Work-life balance looks different for everyone. And each person's version is as legitimate and worthy as the next. That leads us to the first reason work-life balance is eluding you.

1. You're basing it on someone else's definition of work-life balance.

You've read the magazine articles about having it all. That picture perfect image of work-life balance means spending a desirable amount of time with family and friends while easily managing work demands. But in reality, it's more than, "If I take off a little early, I can make my kid's basketball game." It's understanding what is important to you and prioritizing it just like you would this week's to-do list. I advocate for making skillful, courageous, conscious choices about the use of your energy and time.

No two work-life balance scenarios look the same. Just like Yoga, work-life balance is a personal practice—one that doesn't compete with others or that doesn't have the same components as anyone else's. It also doesn't mean you'll be in a constant state of Zen. What is important is knowing what gives you a sense of purpose and joy, and then making time for it. Which leads us to the next reason you can't find work-life balance.

2. You've not done the work to figure out what's meaningful to you.

We all have things that attract us. We each have a talent for something and when we're engaged in that something, it doesn't feel like work. It just flows out of us. I'm not talking just the romantic things like art, music or creative writing.  For some it might be doing hair. For others it might be cleaning. Or maybe it's spending time with children who aren't your own.

It's something you love to do, but not the field you've chosen to work in. Somewhere along the way, someone said, "You can't make any money at that."  "That's not a real job."  Or, "You're smarter than that. You can make a better living doing (fill in the blank)."  And that's what you did. 

So where's your joy? Buried deep beneath one of the LIES that limit—the labels, illusions, excuses and stories—fed to you by those looking out for your best interest. Once you learn how to reconnect with your childhood calling, you'll be able to identify the thing that you must make time for in order to feel whole. 

3. You haven't defined your boundaries.

If the thing that makes you whole doesn't fit into the round hole others have carved out for you, then you have a hint as to where your boundaries lie. Boundaries are more than the line between you and abusiveness—mild or menacing.  Boundaries protect your time that should be spent with the things you value. Saying no to invitations or perceived obligations that stand between you and your joy isn't an act of selfishness. It's an act of self-preservation. And it's ok.

4. You don't feel you deserve to put yourself first.

As women, putting ourselves first equates to high sin. It's selfish. It's self-centered. We've been conditioned to believe that it's absolutely unacceptable if we have children, a husband, aging parents and friends or extended family in need. We must give of ourselves until we have no more left to give. If we don't, we'll be bad people. People will say and think bad things about us. OH MY.

While they're bitching about your absence (which they probably aren't unless you're one of the "Real Housewives" and you missed an expensive botox party or birthday trip to Vegas), you're giving yourself the gift of recharging your batteries with something that makes you smile—something that connects you to your unique purpose. 

You don't have to explain it to anyone. You don't have to get anyone's permission. It's all yours. So, say 'no thank you' and get your crocheting on!

5. You don't have tools to reel you back in when others try to take over. 

I have a morning practice that I call "Clear, Connect, Capture." 

  • Clear:  I use simple movements—breathing, stretching, walking, yoga or dance—to clear my body of stale, stuck energy, so that I'm awake and present.
  • Connect:  Breathing deeply, I give my attention to my inner being. I tune in for connection, insights or just the peace and satisfaction of going within to listen. As in any relationship, the more we pay attention and listen to our inner self, the more we strengthen the relationship. 
  • Capture:  In my journal, I make note of any words, images, ideas, insights, feelings, physical sensations, questions, tasks—whatever comes forward from connection with my inner being, my deeper self. 

While my description of the process is lengthy, the practice doesn't have to be. No matter how much or how little time I have, I consistently show up to be with myself. Sometimes, all I have is literally 2, 3, 5 minutes. On days when I have more time, I happily devote more time. 

If we structure our lives to satisfy others' expectations, predictably, we will be out of balance because we haven't accounted for our own needs. That's where the work is: getting clear about our deepest values, priorities, needs, preferences and structuring life based on our own truth. Bucking tradition and expectations has a cost associated with it.  Not having the quality of life you want costs, too. The question becomes, which price are you most willing to pay?   

Give yourself the gift of authentic inner peace this holiday season. Pick up a copy of my book "LIES That Limit: Uncover the Truth of Who You Really Are."  Your happiness is worth investing in. Only $5.95 for Kindle and e-ReadersThe paperback version is just $11.66.

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