The Case for Life Balance as a Consultant
Life balance has gotten such a bad rap lately. I’ve hear a lot of naysaying about it. And I can’t quite figure out why.
Maybe it’s because it just feels like another item on our ever-growing to-do lists. Or maybe it just feels like such an impossible state to perfect that our failures to achieve and sustain it just make us feel bad about ourselves. Maybe it’s just a passe term, and now we’re supposed to embrace some newer, cooler version. You know, like when we had to abandon the Danish hygge lifestyle and switch to Swedish lagom or whatever the latest lifestyle thing is. (I can’t keep track!)
I get it. Balance can easily feel like a big mean “should” or yet another way to measure our shortcomings. It can seem boring because it’s been around for so long and has lost its shine.
Why Creating More Life Balance is a Good Thing
But I still love creating more balance to my life. Why? Because I know intimately what the alternative is. Imbalance is my default setting. It was how I spent most of my work life. And
it’s awful. It makes being fully present, healthy, and happy so much more difficult!
Striving for more balance in my life is a counterbalance to my tendencies to overwork and neglect other meaningful aspects of my life. It also makes me more likely to deploy strategies that make my life better. Things like saying no and setting and defending boundaries.
Imbalance also hurts my consulting business. It deprives my consulting clients of getting my best self and my best work—both of which are essential to building a reputation of excellence and building a profitable, sustainable consulting business.
Am I perfectly balanced? Oh, heck no! I am never going to be perfect or have a perfectly balanced life. The key is not to aspire for this. After too many years and many grey hairs, I have learned that it makes much more sense to aspire to be thoughtful and deliberate in how I seek more balance.
Personally, I like the concept of life balance. Not because it is exactly right, but because it is good enough. And it is a useful concept that encourages me to ask myself important questions about my life, make choices, implement my choices, and make adjustments over time. The strategies I use are workable and good enough, not perfect.
Naysayers Doth Protest Too Much
I also don’t buy that folks who knock life balance don’t do things to create more balance—either by default or design. I was telling a friend of mine with two kids and a new business about a conversation I had with someone who said that life balance is nonsense. She laughed and said, “Ask him who does his laundry.” Her point was that he likely has people around him—family, team members, service providers—who take care of things to free him up to focus on work. And guess what. That’s a life balance strategy!
It’s About You
Here’s the thing. You do not exist for life balance. Life balance—or, better still, life balancing—is a tool for you and your life. That means you get to define it for yourself. I don’t define it the same way as other people who have different life circumstances and different aspirations and desires. I also get to pick strategies that work for me and my circumstances. I get to devise my own experiments that I hope will work and then tweak my strategies to make them have a better result.
I also get to do my consulting business the way I want. As an independent consultant, I am the boss of my business. Period. Part of my business is to make choices that bring more balance to my life and enable me to deliver excellence to my clients. All choices are not available to me, but I get to make choices when I can. Even when I worked as a consultant at a firm, I made choices for the purpose of life balance. I took a pay cut so I could work 80% time. I had to work within the parameters the firm allowed as well as my own family and lifestyle needs. But I still made choices where I could. The point is to make deliberate choices and not default to old habits or get carried away in ways that create a life you don’t want.
So I encourage you to forget about whether life balance is the perfect concept. Use it as your tool for your life. Call it what you want. Shape it and apply it the way that works for you. No matter what the naysayers say.
How About Doing Life Balancing Now?
Why not do something now to bring more balance to your life. A great strategy is to maximize what you do in the time that you are working. Use my free tool—A Life Balance Exercise: Killing Vampires and Zombies—to help you identify people and activities that suck away your time and life energy and have no value and those repeated activities that don’t serve you or your clients.