The world told me that “good lives” were balanced. It became cliché. Every time I heard the term I wanted to puke for three reasons that I’ll get into down below.
I’ve followed Aaron’s blog and coaching practice for a while and know him to be wise and giving. I also have two friends who hired Aaron as their coach and they sing Aaron’s praises as a coach, mentor, and man. He’s the real deal. So I wanted to get his advice on achieving balance in life and marriage.
When you’re done listening to the episode be sure to head over to a special Confessions of a Terrible Husband page on his website, complete Aaron’s FREE personal assessment, which he uses for his coaching and mastermind clients, and you’ll be entered to win one of six copies of the book Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
Boundaries is a great book that I highly recommend you pick up even if you don’t win!
Aaron also recommends another book I got tremendous value from called Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. Another excellent book on behavior and marriage.
Man I get so pumped thinking back to this interview with Aaron!
Here’s the audio to check it out:
Okay, are you still wondering why I wanted to puke every time I heard the term “work/life balance” between 2004 and mid-2013 (and still struggle with the concept today)?
Here are the top 3 reasons:
1. I didn’t have it and couldn’t figure out how to get it.
For the first 10 years of my career I slept and worked. That’s pretty much it.
Everything else came in when it fit in.
I worked out intermittently. I vacationed only when my wife put her foot down and planned one. Weekend trips? Last minute at best.
My life was driven by the demands of my career.
And my career, while going well, was unpredictable. A client would get sued or have an emergency and need someone to run to court Monday morning to ask a judge to protect them from someone or something. My phone would ring. I’d jump.
In other words, work/life balance meant work was my life 100% of the time.
2. “Balance” is “sneaky subjective.”
The term balance sounds simple. The visual of the scales of justice with both sides at an equal level immediately comes to mind. Or two kids on a playground on a see saw, both suspended in mid air with the plank parallel to the ground.
But then “life” comes in. You have 168 hours in the week. Are you supposed to divide them in equal parts between work, sleep, and play (or other things that are important to you)?
If so, does your commute “count” for work or play? What if you listen to great podcasts or read books during your commute? Does that change anything?
Does sleep even “count”?
And what time frame are you talking about? I’ve just talked about weekly balance here? But is that even the right time frame to use to measure? Months? Days?
Finally, what’s the end game? Equilibrium over whatever time frame you choose?
I’m getting annoyed just typing this! All of these questions make a seemingly objective term sneaky subjective and frustrating.
3. My wants and needs changed over time.
Just when I thought I had a good run and might have “figured it out” something new would come up.
A new kid. A new case. A sick family member. Something.
Life isn’t linear. It’s more like a stock chart than a pie chart (although more pie would be nice…).
Our needs would change day-to-day, month to month, and year to year.
So any “balance” would have to change over time. And that doesn’t sound very “balanced” does it?
But then I realized that balance is more mind than math.
I spent so much time counting hours, days, and weeks that my brain hurt.
Then I realized that it didn’t matter what my time records said, I only felt balanced when my mind was at ease with my schedule.
If we were picking vegetables on my birthday but I was taking calls from work and talking about work to be done over that weekend so we can get into court Monday morning I didn’t feel very balanced at that moment, even if that moment technically was pretty “balanced” because I was physically with my family but mentally working…. (True story.).
Balance was where my brain was.
And this is why I have essentially given up on achieving “balance” in the objective sense and instead concentrate on planning for imbalance that I enjoy.
My brain feels better and my family and friends get the best of me.
What about you? What’s your biggest struggle relating to “balance”? What’s worked for you to feel more balanced?
Let’s chat about them in the comments.