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Danielle Richardson

Dispelling the Myths of Work-Life Balance

Realizing these can help you get unstuck from patterns that ineffectively use your time and energy.

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AS THE WORLD MOVES FASTER, more is demanded of us. There are more patients to examine, more emails needing a response, and more social engagements. Technology has extended the workday beyond its 9-5 confines and our jobs often bleed into family and personal commitments. Many burn the candle at both ends and feel exhausted and inadequate in one or more areas of life.

Enter “work-life balance” to solve our dilemma of being a well-rounded, high-performing human being. The phrase conjures idyllic images of a perfect professional who effortlessly “has it all.”  This and other myths surrounding work-life balance cause people to dismiss the idea and remain stuck in patterns that ineffectively use their time and energy. When life is out of balance you may notice you sleep less, eat worse, and are more susceptible to illness and burnout. Work-life balance is not a magic formula, but rather a consciousness of the relationship between all aspects of your life. Let’s dispel some of the popular myths.

Myth 1: Perfect Balance Exists. A big myth lies in thinking “work” and “life” should balance on a scale with the weight equally distributed between both sides. This falsehood creates stress because we are striving for an idea of perfection that doesn’t exist. Work and home demands are constantly changing so your definition of work-life balance cannot be static. It has to account for the natural oscillations in priorities and allow for evolution.

Myth 2: Balance Is A Working Mom Problem. Work-life balance conversations have a tendency to center around women juggling home and career responsibilites. However, this issue affects us all regardless of age, marital status or gender. Research led by Kristen Shockley of the University of Georgia showed little evidence of differences between the work-life conflicts of men and women. We all struggle with imbalance, so it’s important to seek ways to manage our energy and show up fully at work and home.

Myth 3: Later. I’m Too Busy Now. Work smarter, not harder. It’s tempting to fall into society’s definition of an “ideal worker” who prioritizes work above all. Hard work is necessary for advancement; being a workaholic is not. Create a personal definition of success beyond your career. I teach wellness workshops and retreats to professionals and you’d be surprised how few are in touch with their desires. Asking “What do I want?” is a powerful way to illuminate what’s important to you in order to design your life and appropriately invest your time. Traveling, family time, or learning a language can run in tandem with, not in opposition to, your career.

Balancing our lives in and out of work will remain difficult unless we decide to create more synergy.

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Dr. Danielle Richardson practices in Houston with Texas State Optical and runs a holistic wellness company, Fierce Clarity. She is a registered yoga teacher and hosts wellness retreats, yoga classes, and pop-up events for busy, professional women to help manage stress and avoid burnout. Follow her on Instagram at @fierceclarity

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