I was describing my coaching practice at a party recently.
“So you help your clients achieve work/life balance?” one of the guests asked.
I was surprised at my vehemence. “No! Work/life balance is a myth, a set up for failure,” I said. “I help my clients focus on what’s important to them.”
In a complex life of competing priorities, there is no such thing as balance, I explained. You are always going to feel like you’re letting something or someone or yourself down – because, in fact, you are.
Blasphemy! Work/life balance is a Holy Grail of first world problems.
“It’s a set up for feeling shitty,” I said. Several of the women in the group nodded in agreement.
Rather than struggling on this impossible quest for work/life balance, I help my clients pay attention to the pieces of their lives that matter. Like a benevolent Sauron’s eye, we focus on each of these pieces in turn.
My clients’ work – that antidote to the crushing sense of being out of balance – is to move each of those pieces forward. Sometimes slowly, sometimes incrementally, sometimes in an astonishing sea change.
It’s not about balance; it’s about progress. Being in control of that forward progress is a key component of happiness.
And that’s what I’m really interested in as a coach, I told the group. Work/life balance isn’t big enough: it’s about happiness.
It was New Year’s Eve, and –I kid you not — bursts of fireworks sparkled around us.