As a healthcare professional, I’ve never been a fan of the idea of work-life balance. For me, it calls to mind images of wildly swinging scales as we attempt to weight each side perfectly. The implication being that if we don’t magically split our lives into two equal halves, we’re shortchanging others and failing ourselves. This causes unnecessary stress and guilt and affects our mental and physical health.
Work-life balance is an unachievable notion, and it’s time to kick it to the curb.
Bye-Bye Balance, Hello Harmony What do you think of when you hear the word “harmony”? Does it make you think of an orchestra and how individual notes combine and overlap to create something beautiful? That’s the idea behind work-life harmony – realizing that your work and personal life shouldn’t compete; they should coexist.
One of the things I really love about the concept of work-life harmony is that it is not one size fits all. We all have our own roles, responsibilities, and goals – and these change over time. What a single nurse just starting their career prioritizes might vary from a more seasoned pro with a family. There’s freedom in flexibility.
When you let go of the expectation of “balance”, it’s easier to feel satisfied, present, and optimistic in all areas of your life. Here’s an action plan to help you change your mindset and start moving towards work-life harmony on your own terms.
Identify what you value Take some time to reflect on what’s important, essential, and non-negotiable to you. What experiences, habits, and relationships fulfill you? When you close your eyes, what kind of life do you picture?
Translate your values into goals Start to explore the steps you need to take to live out these values. Perhaps it’s continuing your education or trying a new specialty. Maybe it’s daily or weekly changes such as carving out no-tech time, meditating, or catching up with loved ones.
Simplify where you can Think about the time you spend in your various roles. What can you delegate? What can you skip altogether? What can you spend less time on? As healthcare professionals, we’re used to taking charge, but there’s relief in letting go.
Schedule your well-being Commit to blocking off time for anything that supports your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Put it on your calendar. Try to protect these wellness breaks the same way you would any work obligation.
Develop your support system Nurture sources of support who can help you achieve your career and personal goals. These could be family members, trusted friends, or coworkers. Or why not consider a program like TAP Wellness Coaching? Not only will I personally help you set goals, but you’ll also get the support and encouragement of other like-minded healthcare professionals.
We’ve been conditioned to think that true happiness lies in achieving a balance between our work and our personal lives – and I know it’s not the easiest notion to step away from. I’m still working on this myself. But work-life harmony allows us to think about our lives differently. We should all strive for thinking less about balancing an imaginary scale and more about creating our own orchestra that is perfectly in tune.