Being comfortable and having a good work-life balance are not the same thing.
Work-life balance is about looking at our lives over a significant period of time (say, a year) and making sure we are doing the things we believe are important. Everyone will have a different balance in how they want their lives to be, and there’s not a right-or-wrong way to spend our days. There’s just what we want our lives to be and how good a job we are doing when it comes to actually making the things that matter happen.
In my experience, having a good work-life balance is rarely comfortable. It involves working really hard sometimes, saying “no” to people we would like to help, setting and keeping some personal boundaries, and putting important events (including time off) on our calendars far in advance. It means being intentional about how we use our time, and missing some things at home so that we can later miss some things at work (and vice versa). Pushing for this balance is never easy, it never ends, and it certainly doesn’t make us feel comfortable.
The assumption that having a good work-life balance means we will feel comfortable in day-to-day life sets a lot of people up to feel that they are failing in a way. Those who assume having a life that is “in balance” will make them feel comfortable consequently believe that feelings of exhaustion, stress, or busyness must mean they are doing something terribly wrong.
This is simply not true.
I just want to say that having a good work-life balance IS HARD. Those who pursue it can expect to be stressed, exhausted and busy. These unpleasantries are unfortunately required to have the lives that we want. That doesn’t mean we should live in these emotions, and if we find ourselves constantly overwhelmed and stressed then we are going to need to make adjustments. That said, too often people decide that because they are working hard and finding themselves in uncomfortable situations, they must be failing at creating a life of meaning and purpose. The opposite is more often true.
Often, the default path is the one where we do what is most pleasant in the short term but most frustrating in the long term. It’s much more comfortable to just say “yes,” to sit back and relax, or to resist the urge to “rock the boat,” but this is obviously not how we get the lives we want. In the short term, being comfortable seems great. In the long term, it’s generally a direct path to an unhappy and unbalanced life.
So don’t beat yourself up if you are fighting to have a full life and finding it challenging. Being uncomfortable does not mean you’re doing it wrong. Making the life you want to have takes intentionality, discipline and resolve. Please do not judge yourself on how comfortable you are but instead on how much of a hard-working, boundary setting, sacrifice making, forward planning badass you have become.
And finally, don’t forget… Being comfortable and having a good work-life balance are not the same thing.