Does work/­life balance really exist? I don’t think so, and here’s why

By Eric Chow

“How can I lead a more balanced life?”

This question has been asked by more than one of the missionaries that I have the privilege of mentoring. I’m sure my facial expression gave away my answer before my response. I said to him “I think the balanced life is a myth and here’s why.” Here is a summary of my thoughts:

  • 1. In life there are seasons of busyness and sometimes stuff needs to be a bit crazy.
  • 2. Leading a balanced life I think is an ideal that we try to meet because we want to say that we’ve got everything under control. And we don’t and almost never will.
  • 3. We can’t predict the future and sometimes unexpected things happen.
  • 4. God is asking us to remain faithful to our daily duties, to plan as we are able to, and entrust our lives to him. Matthew 6:34 says “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

I didn’t leave my mentee hanging. I did offer a few suggestions to his question of leading a balanced life.

  • 1. Know what you’re about. A few years ago I spent time writing my mission statement and my core values. Knowing this has helped guide my decisions in everything I do. When I live out of my core values I find that I am more alive and able to give more to the activities in my day.
  • 2. Saying yes is also saying no. I struggle with wanting to do everything. I’ve learned that saying YES to something always means saying NO to something else. Saying YES to speak at a weekend retreat means saying NO to spending time with my family. Knowing both the YES and NO of a decision helps me be “all in” with my choices.
  • 3. Every aspect of our life affects each other. When I am not eating or sleeping well, I find myself more stressed and unable to respond to the various aspects of the day. Eating a huge burger for dinner ­ awesome. Waking up the following morning ­ not so easy. I’ve found that the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of my life are co­dependant.
  • 4. There’s only one ball I’m NOT OK with dropping. If we compared life to juggling balls, it would be like juggling a bunch of rubber balls with one glass ball. The glass ball would represent my most important relationships: my wife, kids, family. If I drop the ball at work I know I can bounce back. I don’t ever want to drop the ball with my family.
  • 5. PLAN. Every monday I take the time to review my week, my goals, and objectives. I place the most important items in my calendar first before anything else. I block two hours. It may seem like a waste of time, but it brings focus to my week and keeps what is most important on my mind. This quote pretty much sums up how I feel about planning:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless. But planning is indispensible.”

– Gen. Dwight Eisenhower

Do I live a balanced life? Nope. Am I trying to live one? Nope. What I am trying to do is live a purpose ­filled life, one that has meaning. I’m working towards living a life focused on what matters most to me. And that’s my relationship with God, the mission He’s entrusted to me, my family, and loved ones.

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