You’ve probably heard a lot about achieving the perfect work-life balance, right? And you’ve struggled and pushed to get there yourself. You want that feeling that everything in your life is running smoothly and easily.
But here’s the hard truth.
You can’t achieve a perfect balance between work and personal life.
To dig a little deeper, you can achieve balance in certain areas. You can feel like you’re both getting plenty of time in the studio and selling enough art. You can feel like you’re both keeping a clean and pretty house and also spending enough time with your family. And crossover too: you can feel like you’ve got plenty of studio time and you’re also spending plenty of time with your family. And other areas too.
The most common areas of our lives are:
family and relationships
space (home, work, environment in general)
personal fulfillment (hobbies, playtime, academic growth)
Usually, we can manage two or three of these at once.
But if your career, family life, and hobbies are getting all your attention, the odds say you’re not going to have time or energy for a workout, picking up your house, or spending time on your spiritual and work lives.
It’s disappointing. Especially for perfectionists like myself. And you’ll probably still strive for that perfect work-life balance anyway. But it might help you beat yourself up less to know that you’re not expected to achieve it.
There’s another little thing with this that I want to teach you and it’s a little more important. It’s a great strategy for getting as many areas of your life to run smoothly as possible. See there’s a little nuance here that I haven’t highlighted: this limit is for areas that are growing and being paid attention to.
So it’s not so much that you can’t be happy in all these areas at once (you totally can!) as it is that you can only be focused on 2-3 at once.
The other areas will stagnate. But if they stagnate in a good spot, then it doesn’t matter as much, right? You can’t have a “balance” where you spend time and energy on everything, but you can get all the areas to a satisfying level. So here’s a cool strategy for you.
If you focus really intently on one area and get it to a really good point and put in place the systems that will keep it that way even when you’re mostly ignoring it, then you can let that area stagnate and you can work on another area. And if you keep doing this, eventually you’ll create your own version of balance. It will feel really good.
Let me give you an example.
So you decide to focus on health. You spend a couple months getting to the point where you’re eating well and getting a really good workout in 3 times a week. You hit your goal weight and you don’t feel tempted to overeat or even to skip your exercise regimen.
Then you start working on getting your home de-cluttered and cleaned. Because you’ve already built systems and routines around your health, it almost runs on autopilot while you tackle your house, room by room. You don’t have to worry about losing weight because you already hit your goal weight. You don’t have to worry about managing your diet because you’ve already made healthy food choices into a habit. Make sense? When one area has been fulfilled, you can let it stagnate at a really good spot while you focus on another area.
However, if you were to try focusing on health, spirituality, and building your art business all at once?
Whoosh! That’s really hard! On any given day you might be trying to make the right food choices, to fit in an hour-long workout, to spend time praying or meditating, to take time to read spiritual texts, to get through all the emails about your business, to read articles about building your art business, to photograph your newest piece, and to contact a local gallery about showing your work. Can you imagine trying to fit all that into one day without going crazy? I can’t!
So today I want to leave you not just with ideas buzzing around in your head, but with something you can actually do to move forward, make progress, and start to see your own version of a work-life balance appear.
I want you to pick the one area that matters the most to you right now. Got it? Good. Now I want you to make a goal surrounding that area. Got it? Good. Now list out everything that has to be done to hit that goal and put each task on your calendar, one a day, until they are all on there.
Fabulous! You will now be making daily progress toward your goal. When you achieve that goal, you can do the same process with another area.
For a little accountability, post your area and your goal in the comments below and any questions you have about this process or achieving your goals.
*This post was inspired by the Magical Manifesters program from Erin Stutland. No product affiliation here aside from me taking the program and wanting to riff on one of the topics as it pertains to artists, but I wanted to give credit where it’s due.