Breaking the work-nonwork tug of war by blending rather than balancing

The push-pull tension between work life and non-work life is a tension everyone knows well. For most people, it is a constant challenge. Your family need you to be somewhere, but there is also a meeting you cannot afford to miss. There just are not enough hours in the day. Everything always has to be done at the same time. Trying to walk on a tightrope, worrying about letting both sides down, feeling torn and stuck in the middle.

Whilst aiming for a balance between work and non-work is seductive, evidence shows it does not work that way.

The balance is unsustainable. Things happen. Train times change, people move to a new house, the organisation downsizes, a new boss arrives, a health issue needs treatment, a partner gets a new job. People change jobs more frequently. Any of these events can throw you off balance.

A balance is also hard when the two sides are unclear. The boundary between work and non-work is becoming more blurred. Many people in mid-life reach for a new mix by working more flexibly, setting up their own business, embracing portfolio careers, going back to school, becoming a mentor, or mixing paid and unpaid work.

Instead of working on two opposing aspects of your life—work and non-work—you need to consider the blend of the main elements in your life – how satisfying they are and improvement actions you can make. It’s more realistic, more sustainable and more achievable.

Most people have six to ten priority life elements to blend. Yours might include your relationship; work/job; hobbies/interests; fun; family; finances; health; friends; personal time; wider family; spirituality; or community.

Taking time to consider and improve your life blend can make an immediate and sustainable difference.

You can also get help working on your blend. There are some great tools that can help you get a better blend. For example, Open Blend is a great online tool that enables great manager-individual conversations. A good coach can also help you consider different elements of your life and work out how to improve your own blend.

To learn more, check out my new book: Dancing with fear and confidence: How to liberate yourself and your life in mid-life

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