Jamie Smith tells people that she is a “wife, furbaby momma, entrepreneur, auntie, and most of all, a grateful believer in Jesus Christ.” Professionally, she is a writer and a Certified Personal Leadership Effectiveness advisor. Her life mission is to inspire people, especially women, towards better self-awareness and ownership of their inherent value, core beliefs, and purpose through personal vulnerability, storytelling, and leadership.
How many times have we heard the phrase “work/life balance” and even more importantly, how many times have we as women felt like we were failing at achieving this balance?
Whether you work at a job or as a stay-at-home mom, the idea of work/life balance is tough. It creates a false standard that not only doesn’t make sense, but I would go as far to propose that it’s a threat to our mental state, our emotions, and ultimately our families.
Why ‘work/life balance’ doesn’t work
Think of it this way: the phrase “work/life balance” sends the clear message that we should be balancing work and “everything else.” I don’t know about you, but my “everything else” is pretty important! And, while this concept was created to try and help people with life balance, it still emphasizes work as the most important thing. That’s both illogical and unhealthy.
As a society, and I think especially as women, we have this internal concept that we must “do all the things” and to do these things perfectly all the time. Has that worked for any of you yet? I know it hasn’t for me! Attempting to be everything for everyone every time led to anxiety, depression and a sense of failure. That’s unhealthy for us as women and it sets a bad example for those around us, including kids. I learned that not only did I have to set priorities, but that it was OK for those priorities to shift.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. Our marriages, families and relationships with God should always be the ultimate priority. But what we choose to focus on at the moment can and should be an ever-evolving thing.
Finally, I would say that when our mental state is confused, our emotions are distraught, and we’re in a constant tizzy of trying to succeed, that our family suffers. You may notice from my bio that I don’t have children. But I know that my marriage suffers when I get into this state and I know if I had children, they would suffer as well.
A better approach
You also may have noticed from my bio that I am a Certified Personal Leadership Effectiveness advisor. The certification is through Future Achievement International, and the goal is helping people find authentic success through character-based personal and professional development. Our personal leadership effectiveness comes from our ability integrate our character and behavior DNA.
In PLE training, we talk about the principle “Integrate All of Life,” which teaches us how to balance priorities, attitudes and goals in all areas of life. When individuals get out of balance and lose control they become highly susceptible to distress, anger and fear, depression and yes, burnout. Sound familiar?
An easier way to look at the Integrate All of Life model is through the 7 Fs. By balancing all aspects of your life, you are more likely to maximize your professional life and all aspects of your personal life.
Here’s a quick look at the 7 Fs of life (in no specific order):
- Firm: your work life. Anything you consider your “job” fits in this category, even when it affects other parts of your life such as family.
- Faith: anything that pertains to your spiritual well-being including Bible Study, prayer, time in nature, etc.
- Family: applies to anything from your immediate family commitments to your extended family.
- Friendships: time spent maintaining friendships.
- Finances: any activities related to managing your finances. This is different from firm, which is how you earn money, whereas finances is how you manage that money.
- Fitness: taking care of your physical being. This can mean sleeping more, taking a daily jog, or simply eating right. For me, this usually means managing my various chronic illnesses.
- Fun: pleasurable activities that are just for you. Anything that lets you disconnect and rejuvenate is considered fun! For me, this includes scrapbooking and getting my nails done.
When you look at each of these seven life areas, are you allowing yourself to make each item a priority in your schedule at some point? We all have our own ways of developing new habits and maintaining our schedule. I hope that for both you and your family that you start to work towards a more integrated way of life instead of an unnatural balancing act.
How about this: let’s share our ideas in the comments. How do you integrate all of life? How can we as women support each other in achieving this aspect of authentic success?