The real reason you constantly struggle to find work/life balance

When I was working as an HR professional I never felt a sense of work/life balance – at least not to the degree I wanted it in my life (mind you – I was also the one writing/creating/producing many of these policies and programs).  That was one of the reasons I decided not to return to a corporate role after the birth of my second child.  I wanted a career shift that would allow my children a different level of accessibility to me.  One I believed a corporation would never fully embrace.


Once I decided career coaching was a great match for me and I opened my own coaching practice, I had an unbelievable degree of flexibility in how and when I did my work.  Yet, I mysteriously still struggled to achieve the sense of balance I craved.  As they say, everywhere you go – there you are.


So here’s the real reason you constantly struggle to find work/life balance – it’s the same reason I struggled to find it…

The truth was that traditional corporate initiatives were not falling short in my quest for work/life balance – I was the problem.  I was mistakingly seeking a sense of balance horizontally – as in, between my left and right hands – so to speak.  I thought the answer was in “work smarter” (and sometimes harder).  In that effort I did a lot of things differently – I became:

  • a major-league multi-tasker (rarely was I ever doing 1 thing at a time)
  • a master scheduler (my calendar app was a well-oiled, perfectly planned and color-coded map to “balance”)
  • a military-esque disciplined time manager – I stuck to my appointments and plans come hell or high water in an effort to balance multiple professional and personal projects and commitments
  • a flawless strategist at handling unexpected opportunities – I even built “free” time into my schedule which allowed me time to catch up or to make up for things I blew off when they were scheduled because something better or more fun showed up


No doubt, I was efficient – probably the most efficient person I knew.  Yet – I still didn’t quite find the peace that balance surely promised.  Thankfully, on my Sedona Soul Adventure sabbatical last month – I figured out what was missing…


I realized I was too trusting in a work smarter approach to give me the ability to do all the things I could think of to manifest my goals and live my values – and as long as I was able to keep to that schedule (and didn’t drop dead in the process), I trusted I had balance – even though I wanted more.  Turns out I was just wrong in how I thought balance was achieved!


Don’t get me wrong, having a plan to accomplish anything (and the discipline to carry it out) is always an amazing gift and advantage.  But in Sedona, I gained perspective that true balance comes not from a vision of horizontal balance (like the scales of justice or juggling multiple balls between your left and right hands), but from vertical balance.


Vertical balance is experienced between earthly demands/ambitions and a spiritual connection with your higher self/God/universe (however you believe).  Just because we can identify and achieve multiple goals or answer multiple calls to action doesn’t mean we are competent, knowledgeable, strong, courageous, etc. or that we will feel a sense of balance just by being able to do it all efficiently.


In order to feel a sense of balance, we must learn to first seek a sense of balance vertically vs. horizontally.  That looks like checking our earthly calls for action (externally charged forces) against our higher self/God/universe calls for attitude (internally charged forces).  The earthly stuff demands certain actions from us and it measures our effectiveness by our results.  The higher self/God/universe stuff demands certain attitudes from us (our state of being) and it measures our effectiveness by how others feel in our presence – how we feel in our own presence.  


If you don’t feel balanced – ask yourself what are you primarily paying attention to – is it tasks/goals/demands of others?  Where is your attitude at?  Get done what you wish – but do it through a filter of how you feel called to enable others to feel in your presence.  The answer probably lies in how you wish others made you feel.  


For me, I see that I was heavily relying on others – especially my husband –  to bring a sense of fun to my life.  So when my husband wasn’t in a fun mood, I felt very unbalanced – how could I feel balanced relying on something/someone outside of myself to provide something that was critical to my sense of balance?  And my attitude was in the toilet – it sounded like “how dare he not be fun?!” ;-)


Having fun was always something I was up for AFTER all my work was done for the day (needless to say, that left very few hours for fun in my day).  So how could balance be achieved by bringing an attitude of fun into my daily ambitions – especially since I did not see myself to be a generator of fun especially when I was in “get it done” mode?


They key was to observe myself and who I was being while I was doing all the stuff I was doing vs observing others and judging how they were being while they where doing what they were doing.  Many times, I didn’t observe the fun, honesty, fairness, kindness, peace/ease or power I desired.  That was the vertical piece to my balance equation that was missing – the way to experience these things was not to expect them from others but to enable them for myself and others.  I also didn’t have to pressure myself to have the answers about how to achieve these spirited states – I just had to invite the question.


That makes me feel aligned with a higher power – one who’s ideas and guidance are way better than anything I could ever imagine on my own.  That has given me a whole new experience of balance and meaningful effectiveness in my life AND in my work.


About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

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