We’ve all heard the term “work-life balance” but let’s be real, balance is hard. It’s hard for most people to walk down a flight of stairs or in a straight line, much less find a perfect balance between personal life and work life.
Here’s the thing, work-life balance is hard to achieve, really hard to achieve. Being off balance implies that something is not where it should be. Adding to the problem of this balance ideal is that our work and home lives are not tidily compartmentalized (thanks to technology). By trying to “balance” everything in every aspect of our lives to the detriment of sleep, nutrition, exercise, and fun, we tend to show up to work already stressed and depleted.
Did you know that workplace stress accounts for about $190 billion in healthcare costs every year in the U.S? That’s nearly 8 percent of all corporate healthcare spending!
So meet our friend, the work-life blend. By rethinking balance and seeking to blend, not only will we feel less guilty about them mixing together, but we will find ourselves more realistically able to find happiness in both life and work.
1. Find your key ingredients
Knowing exactly what you want to put into your mix is the first step toward achieving work-life blend. Just like a cocktail shaker or a crockpot, the container eventually reaches capacity, so know what is most important to put in there.
2. What works for other people won’t always work for you
It’s all about discovering your perfect mix, not someone else’s. Unlike work-life balance where the ideal is to evenly distribute the weight, with work-life blending, there is no “perfect” to strive for—but rather one that you like and that works for you. Ignore other people’s judgments, they are not living your life. If working on your career and keeping in touch with your friends via Instagram or texts makes you feel successful and connected go for it. If spending more time with family and friends is your thing, then manage your time well so you can afford to take time off work to spend with them.
3. Stop focusing on time and focus on achievement instead
Time is the traditional measure in which the balance model works (and may still work for some people). We take hours spent and weigh them. When looking for work-life blend, time is not a good thing by which to judge. Have I achieved in all areas that matter to me? is a better way to judge success or failure or what needs re-blending. Are my relationships in a good place and my work life moving right along? Have I seen the things I wanted to see & done the things I wanted to do? These are the kinds of questions work-life blending requires you to ask yourself.
4. Do the things you do well
If you want work-life blending to be successful, it requires doing your things well. Workplaces are embracing the blend because they realize it’s a “must do” to attract and retain great people in the future. Give people the flexibility to do what they need to do. On the flip side, this requires more self-judgment, as you need to monitor the mix and determine that it is working not just for you but also for the people counting on you. As Ron Swanson once said “Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing”
5. Change the blend
The great thing about seeking a work-life blend is that the blend does not have to be the same and it can change depending on what you feel is most important at any point in time. This means shifting your mindset from the balance you achieved today or this week between work and home and seeing the bigger picture. It is ultimately about asking whether, in the big picture, the blend is working for you. And this is the beauty of work-life blending.
So blend it up y’all. Find what works best for you at this time in your life and run with it.