Episode #240: THE ELUSIVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
TAYLOR BRADFORD: You are listening to episode number 240 of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Today I’m talking about that infamous work-life balance. On to the episode.
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Hey, welcome to Episode 240. I’m Taylor Bradford, your host of the Boss Girl Creative podcast, and I am sounding a heck of a lot better this episode. The bronchitis is out the window for the most part, and I’m super grateful because holy cow, it completely rocked my world. Again, if you listen to the last episode, oh man, I’m so sorry. But I don’t miss a week, so it was important for me to get behind the microphone and at least share something, even if it was 14 minutes long because I’ve never missed an episode and I don’t intend to miss an episode. So today, we’re going to be talking about the infamous work-life balance. You guys know that that’s been a phrase since like the 80s? People have been chasing work-life balance since the 80s. It’s kind of crazy. But that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.
But before we dive in, first a couple of things. This week’s community member spotlight is Jamie Jordan Brown. You can find her over on Facebook at Jamie Jordan Brown and also on Instagram @jamiejordanbrown and spelled J-A-M-I-E-J-O-R-D-A-N-B-R-O-W-N. Jamie entertains, she’s a DJ, she performs violin and sings, she creates music videos and beats and is the Director of Music at her church. She performs live on the music app, Next Music, and also teaches violin voice and piano at a music academy. She is currently in the inception phase of creating an e-course on violin improvisation. Jamie, thank you so much for being a part of the Boss Girl Creative community. I hope you guys will go say hello to her over on Instagram @jamiejordanbrown. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming episode of the Boss Girl Creative podcast and a newsletter mention and also an Instagram story feature on Fridays. It’s easy. There’s like four or five quick questions to answer, and you’ll get put in the queue for an upcoming feature. Just pop over to bossgirlcreative.com/feature to get in the queue. It’s super simple. Jamie again, thank you for being a longtime listener of the Boss Girl Creative podcast and supporter, it truly means a lot to me.
And we’ve got another iTunes review. Thank you so much for our latest reviewer, lishi567848483. She says, “I just found this podcast, and I absolutely love it. It’s helped me so much already. I am in the beginning phases of starting an online business, and her information is a gem.” Thank you so much for tuning in to the Boss Girl Creative podcast and becoming an avid listener, I hope and for supporting the show. I truly appreciate you and all of the listeners out there. If you have not left a review over through the Apple Podcast platform, I would so appreciate that, and I will read it in an upcoming episode.
And yeah, so let’s kind of like dive into this whole work-life balance thing. So since it’s kind of been around since the 80s, I kind of feel like this is one of those ever-elusive ideas. Like, can we actually achieve work-life balance? Umm, I don’t quite think so. I think that’s the wrong phrase. The supposed definition of work-life balance is, in order to truly enjoy your life, your work must not bleed beyond an eight to 12-hour workday so that you can forget about your business or work outside of those hours. Like that’s, I guess, the legit definition. But is that even realistic? Is it even possible? A kind of think it’s impossible because I think our expectations kind of get out of whack when we start thinking Yes, we can find the balance and work and life and be happy and be joyful and all those things. But it’s really more to do with our expectations being a little bit unrealistic because those views can lead us to demotivation, depression, burnout, three things that completely work against personal enjoyment and fulfillment.
So how do we try for work-life balance? Well, there are some lies that we’re probably all telling ourselves, and I’m going to go through them, and by the end, I hope that you’re going to have a new definition of work-life balance, and maybe we’re going to even swap out the word balance because I really don’t know that that’s the true proper word we should be using.
So first, I’m going to already say none of us truly have an accurate definition of what balance even is. But let’s dive into these lies that we might be telling ourselves number one is, the less hours that you work, the happier you will be. And if we all picked up the book, The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, we might all think that if we only work four hours a week, the rest is gravy and our life’s going to be so joyful and full of all the cool things. But really, how realistic is that for everybody? There’s so many factors that actually affect balance outside of the actual number of hours that you work. Business goals, your workload, your stress management, your family priorities, your hobbies, your health, and wellness, like all of that goes into balance. So you can’t really be like, “I’m going to work eight hours and then shut down and then not stress about work so that I can go live my life joyously and have time for the hobbies, and the health and wellness, and the family priorities, and the workload, and the stress management, and the business goals because I can just turn that all off after eight hours.” I, that’s not realistic. That’s a lie.
Okay, so lie number two, that there is a perfect 50/50 split between work and life. Yeah. No. There’s not. There never will be. Perfection does not exist, you guys, give it up. You cannot be perfect. Winston Churchill says that “perfection is the enemy of progress.” So true. The key is equilibrium. That is the key. It’s not necessarily balance, per se, its equilibrium. And it depends on your ability to accept the fact that there is an inevitable ebb and flow that’ll mean sacrificing different areas of your life at various times. Equilibrium. Balance. So what is more important to you in this moment, because that’s what you’re going to choose every single time. The thing that is most important to you in that moment, and that’s what tips the balance scale. That’s what shifts the equilibrium because none of us are in the same place in life. None of us are. And we all have to accept what our priorities are, what they are for work, what they are for life, what they are for family because that’s how we make our decisions.
Lie number three: What works for me will also work for you. Well, that goes right back to me saying, you’re going to choose the most important thing to you in that moment based on your life goals and your work goals and your family goals. What’s a priority to you? So what is a priority to me is not going to be a priority to you. So what does your ideal balance look like for you right now in this moment, based on your current business and life goals? Because here’s the thing, no one else can tell you how to manage the time in your life because no one gets your life like you do. There can’t be somebody saying, “Oh, you just got to do this. And oh, you guys got to sacrifice that.” Because none of us know what it truly is like to be living your life. You do not know what it’s like to be living my life. I don’t know what it’s like to be living your life. You are making choices based on the factors in your life and your priorities, while I’m making choices based on the factors of my life and my priorities. We don’t lead the same lives. That’s important to get through to you. What works well for me isn’t going to work well for you. Can we aspire to change? Absolutely. But again, what is your ideal balance look like right now in this moment, based on your current business and life goals?
Lie number four: Your boss has it better than everyone else. Uhh, no. All levels, no matter if you’re working for yourself or you are in the grind nine-to-five, all levels of work still have to manage work and life balance. They still do. Just because you get an amazing promotion does not mean that it just becomes a gravy train after that. There’s more pressure; there’s probably more things you have to manage, maybe even more people you have to manage. There’s definitely more things on your to-do list once you get a promotion. So this is what you got to do; you have to set clear boundaries for yourself. Identify what you’re willing to tolerate as far as your time management is concerned, and also what your workload looks like, and the hours that you’re going to be putting in, because right now maybe you are not chasing that promotion. Maybe you’re not chasing that extra revenue. Maybe right now in this moment, it’s more important to just get your bills paid so that you can spend time raising your children. Or you can spend time studying to get that master’s degree. Set clear boundaries for yourself. No one has it better than you do. No one. It doesn’t matter what level they are in life; it doesn’t get easier with climbing the ladder, even in your own business. As you grow, there are going to be more things that you have to take care of. As you grow, you’re going to have to get team members, and then you’re going to have to manage those team members. As you grow, you’re going to have more revenue, and you’re gonna have to figure out how you spend it and how you don’t spend it. All levels still have to manage work in life. So set clear boundaries, and then you’ve got to stick to them. You cannot let people walk over you.
Last lie. This is number five: You are the only one who feels unbalanced. Girl, I got news for you. Every single one of us feels unbalanced. It is truly the most complex process out there that never truly ends. You got to get your work and life demands in sync, and then it’s going to be just a constant juggling act to maintain that equilibrium. If you can get close to syncing, and then manage that with clear boundaries and sticking to them, you’ve got a chance. You’ve got to always reassess, and you’ve got to always restructure because again, at the end of the day, maybe today this is the priority, but tomorrow what if the priority changes, then you got to go back and reassess and restructure what that balance looks like. You got to set realistic expectations for what your business life and your home life will be like, and then factor in the imperfect. Because it is a constant scale that tips. Integrate your worlds; that’s how you achieve work-life balance. You’ve got to integrate them both together. They have to work together; they have to be in sync. You can’t turn one off and turn the other one on. They have to be in sync with each other. Your goals should be to accomplish your goals in a way that is the most comfortable to you. So the goals that you set for yourself need to be accomplished in a way that is most comfortable to you. You’ve got to cut yourself some slack and give yourself grace because, you guys, we are only human. We are always going to be in a work-life balance equilibrium. We’re always going to be a work in progress. We’re always going to be reassessing and restructuring because priorities are going to change. Priorities are going to shift. What’s important today might not be important tomorrow. What if you find out that you’ve got to move cross-country, and you just set up your three-year goal plan for you and your spouse and your family and boom, you’ve gotta move? That’s reassessing and restructuring that equilibrium to keep things in sync based on your priorities and your goals today because they might change tomorrow.
Since the end of 2018, it has been something that I have struggled with trying to figure out, how in the world do I get these things in sync? Because I could just work all day long and some of it is productive, and some of it is squirrel moments. But I started to realize that I had to have more structure at the end of 2018, which is when I picked up the book, The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs, and it gave me some structure. It gave me a really good framework to jump from, and it allowed me to change the way I structured my mornings. Now, I didn’t stick to the full smart routine that’s taught in The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs. But it did give me enough structure that I was able to find more equilibrium in work-life balance, and it really kind of helped me propel forward so that I knew that I had to set time aside for things in my life outside of work. I knew that I would just sit at the computer all day long if I did not say, “Taylor, it’s time to be done and go do this other thing that you really enjoy doing or go hang out with your husband or go grab dinner with a friend.” Because I am a workhorse and something I saw over this past week with bronchitis, I am a workhorse, and it’s really hard to not be working. It is in my blood and last week was a really, really big week for me. I had a huge design client. On Friday, I had her wedding, and I had five major installations coming in, backdrops that I was building for her, and you know, trying to make her dream wedding come true. And that’s a lot of pressure, first of all, because we as females, think about our wedding from, you know, early Cinderella days. And it’s a magical experience or is supposed to be a magical experience, and so when you’re a wedding designer, and you got that on your shoulders, it can be kind of stressful. And so I’m trying to pull out the magic. I’m trying to create the wow-factors and, y’all, it was the most amazing experience for me. I actually had, I hired a videographer to come in and shoot marketing for me throughout the entire wedding setup process. And I got to do an actual room reveal for the bride and have it captured both in still image form and also in video form. And I could not have instructed her to react the way she did, even if I tried. And it will speak volumes for my business, and I can’t wait to share it once I’m able to get ahold of it once it’s fully edited for me to use for marketing. But I couldn’t have scripted her any better than how she reacted, and I made her wedding dreams come true. And, but it’s because I’m a constant workhorse, and I’m striving for that perfection even though it doesn’t exist. I strive for progress. I strive to bring wow-factors. I strive to do all these things, and I will work and work and work until I fall apart, which is basically bronchitis.
And, you know, it’s important for me to get that structure back, which is why I have started this new time-block schedule that I’ve talked about over the past couple of episodes. Because it truly is important for me, I do need to shut down at some point and pick up something else. And finding that balance and finding that equilibrium where things are in sync, where I feel like I’m not stressed because I’m not doing that thing in business that I probably need to be doing. And I can actually focus and be full 100% in the other things in life, spending time with my husband, spending time with friends, reading a book, shutting down on Fridays and not being on social media, like all of that is really important to me. And really, like, where am I at right now? And what’s important to me? And where do I need to be in business? And where do I need to be in life? Like, now, with this new structure, I actually have built-in my exercise, because I wouldn’t do it unless it was in the calendar. And if you’re not going to do something without it being scheduled, then at least get it scheduled. And so now I’ve got this routine where I’m up at seven, and I have trained myself now to not necessarily have to have an alarm to get up at seven, which is really awesome because I’m not a morning person. And I can get up, and I can get myself to the gym, and I can get in a really good workout, and then I’m done. I don’t have to worry about when it’s like seven o’clock, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t go workout today yet again.” And getting that structure that I so desperately need and again back to what works for me is not going to work for you. So I don’t want you to think that this discovery that I found, this 90 minutes of work and 30 minutes of doing something that’s not work-related, is going to work for you. You might try the Pomodoro Technique, which is 25 minutes of work and a five-minute break. Maybe that will work for you. Or maybe you need a bigger time block so that you’re working on marketing tasks for two hours, or you’re working on blogging tasks for two hours, or you’re, you know, whatever it might be. Like today, for example, that I’m the day that I’m recording this, I got one solid work block done, and then I was distracted in the second work block, and then I had all of these errands to run to make up for me being sick last week. And so tomorrow, I will be back on track but tomorrow also in the afternoon, I’m going to lose a couple of work blocks because I have a hair appointment. And so I have to give myself grace. I have to cut myself some slack that I’m not going to be perfect at fulfilling all of these time blocks, but at least they’re in my schedule, so I have this structure. So when I get back to my computer, I sit down and look at the time, and I’m like, I know exactly what I need to be doing right now. I need to be in a work block, or I need to be doing something that’s not work-related.
We are human. We are always a work in progress. Finding work-life balance is not going to happen until you can get those things equal in a way that means they’re in sync, not a 50/50, because it will never be 50/50. And some days it’s going to be more, and some days it’s going to be less depending on what is going on in your life. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to cut yourself slack. You’ve got to give yourself grace. You have to set clear boundaries for yourself. You’ve got to find a routine or a structure that works for you, so that when you do unplug and when you do uncharge, you’re not stressed about what you’re leaving undone, because that is what causes us to spiral out. That’s what causes us to procrastinate. That’s what causes us to get stuck in a rut. None of us want to get stuck in a rut. None of us want to feel held back. We don’t want to be the person in our own way. That’s not how this should work.
So can we achieve work-life balance? No. Can we strive for progress of it? Yes. Can we strive to be in sync with each other? Yes. It won’t be 50/50 though, it will never be 50/50, and what works for you may not work for me and vice versa. You’ve got to find what works for you and find joy in that because if it sucks, you’re not gonna keep trying to do it. You’re just going to keep procrastinating or doing something else, and then you’re going to stop being productive. And we’ve got to be more productive with the time that we do have, with the time that we have available to us, whatever that means in your life right now. So strive for progress, not for perfection, work to get in sync and find an equilibrium that works for you, and get to working.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Again, shout out to this week’s community member spotlight, which is Jamie Jordan Brown. Again, you can find her on Instagram @jamiejordanbrown, and I will be back next week with another episode of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. A couple of things to note coming up in February I will be starting a new series I’m going to dive back into my “Eight + One Pillars.” And I’m going to give you eight plus one pillars over a nine-week series of what those are and what that actually means to help you build your business. And so stay tuned for that.
And also, if you’re not already in the Inner Circle, what are you waiting for? So to get in, the Level One is $10 a month, and it gets you in access to the Inner Circle. And we have a monthly live Q&A, where you can ask me questions, and I can help you get unstuck or whatever it is that you need. I also started a resource library specifically for the Inner Circle. Level Two unlocks the next level. It’s $25 a month, and it unlocks getting masterclasses. It also unlocks getting templates that are starting to come out. It also unlocks a Boss Girl Creative coffee mug that I will send you, plus a handwritten thank you note for being at the Level Two. And also, for every three months that you are invested into the Level Two membership, you get a one-on-one 30-minute session with me where we can strategize whatever it is that you need to strategize within your business. And also, at Level Two, there is a monthly two-hour co-working day where we jump into my Zoom channel and spend a Sunday afternoon or a Sunday evening. We spend two hours together, the group that’s in the Level Two, and we just work on things that are on our to-do list together. And it’s a great way for some accountability and also for some community-building and getting to know each other. And you work on what’s on your to-do list, I work on what’s on my to-do list, and we just chat. It’s a really fun time. So get yourself into the inner circle. Pop over to patreon.com/bossgirlcreative. P-A-T-R-E-O-N.com/bossgirlcreative. What are you waiting for? Go get yourself into the Inner Circle. I’ll be back next week, guys. I hope you have a great rest of your week.