Even before COVID-19 hit and the lines between work-life and home-life became more blurred than ever before, the notion of having work-life balance is often viewed as an achievement—to continually work towards evenly balancing work and other priorities in your life.
But the fact is, work-life balance is never evenly balanced, and that is okay. Compartmentalizing your life into siloed chunks of time—8 hours of work, 8 hours at home, and 8 hours of sleep—is unrealistic. Researchers Ioana Lupu and Mayra Ruiz-Castro reframe work-life balance as a cycle in this Harvard Business Review article. Rather than viewing your work as something that always needs to be in balance with the rest of your life, consider your current priorities in life, and recognize that these will shift over time.
Maybe you’re a new professional looking to grow in your career, learn new skills, and make connections? If that’s the case, it’s very possible that you may focus on your work and make that a priority right now, while other aspects of your life may take a back-seat. For others, while work may be important, focusing on connecting with your family at home, dedicating time to social activism, or working on your mental and physical health and well-being may be at the top of your list. Work will still be part of your life, but it doesn’t need to define everything you do, and it’s okay if it isn’t the main focus of your energy (or in equal balance with other aspects of your life).
Everyone’s priorities will look different, and rather than aiming to achieve an unrealistic ideal, consider what you want to focus on at this point in your life, and how you can make time for those priorities.