Stop trying to achieve the work-life balance everyone keeps on talking about because it doesn’t exist. Balance is different for everyone and it’s constantly changing as your life evolves based on your priorities and situations. In the fourth part of chapter one of her book, Dear Workaholics, Kat Nieh encourages you to strive instead for work-life harmony. She also tackles the fifth part, which is being less selfless and better to yourself. In all situations in life and work, your harmony should involve a view of yourself that is enough. Learn to value yourself and accept yourself and know that you are more than enough.
Listen to the podcast here:
[ Episode 10 ] 1.4 – Work life harmony and 1.5 – Enough is enough
“Chapter 1.4 – Who needs work life balance anyway?”
“Please, please for the love of God, please stop trying to achieve the work-life balance everyone keeps on talking about. It’s seriously a mythical creature that doesn’t exist like Unicorn or Bigfoot. People have claimed to see it, but it’s not real. The word balance implies that work and life are constantly battling each other in this constant push and pull to achieve a 50/50 middle ground. No one’s life is a clear 50/50 split. That balance is different for everyone and it’s constantly changing as your life evolves based on your priorities and situations. If I need to work a bit more to achieve a goal, I work a bit more. If I need to work a lot less so I could travel a lot more, I put aside my work. I am not perfect. I’m still learning where that fine line is and that’s okay. I strive to achieve my work-life harmony.”
“Why do I like the word harmony better? For me, it’s all about learning how to have all the aspects of my life exists in harmony. In any given moment that can change based on what’s going on at the time. Harmony is all about what I want my life to look like. There a sense of peace to it. It’s fluid, not fixed. It’s soothing, not stressful or forced. There’s no struggle, no battle, just acceptance.”
“My harmony is to live the life I am living in the moment as I’m living it. Let’s look at the definition of harmony according to the dictionary. One, it’s a combination of simultaneous musical notes and chords. Two, the structure of music with respect to the composition and progression of chords. Three, the science of the structure, relation and progression of chords. Four, a pleasing arrangement of parts. Five, an interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative.”
“If my life were a song, I’d have one of those complex arrangements where the musical notes danced through the chorus in such a way that they lived harmoniously ever after. The narrative that my work would share would complement that of the other aspects of my life. Life is like an ever-evolving symphony. No one wants to score it amongst the components. No one wants work to take over the whole thing because then it sounds and feels like hard work. There are a time and place for your workaholism to shine within the harmony.”
That is the end of Chapter 1.4.
I want to share that I struggled to achieve that work-life balance. When I tried to do that, it just led to more stress and the more I didn’t want to deal with it, because it was all about work. I didn’t have much of a life outside of it. I realized I had to let go of trying to find that 50/50 split balance. I realized that my harmony is different than other people’s work-life harmony because everyone has their priorities and their own life. No one’s harmony looks exactly the same.
It’s exhausting trying to chase after perfection or trying to force yourself to live someone else’s life. Stop the struggle. Let that go. Stop the comparison. Stop wishing that your life was like someone else’s. Look at your own life instead. Focus on what makes you happy. Focus on what makes you fulfilled and chase after your happiness instead.
It would take some time to figure that out and that’s okay. You might need to experiment and that is okay. You have to try things out for yourself to know if it’s going to work for you or not. No one could know if it will work for you because they’re not you. Ignore all the other external feedback that say, “You should do this, you should do that.” Decide for yourself if that is what works for you. Give yourself permission to do so. Try things out, experiment, play with it, have fun with it. There’s no failure, just feedback. Remember that. That concept changed the way I look at things.'I am not good enough' is the biggest limiting belief you can tell yourself. Click To Tweet
“Chapter 1.5 – Enough is enough.”
“The word enough applies to me in two different perspectives.”
“One, I never felt like I was good enough. That was my biggest limiting belief that loomed over my life. It was also the cause of me being a workaholic because I had to prove to myself and to others that I was enough. It also held me back from what I truly want to do, which was to feel free to live my life on my terms. I was my own harshest critic and I said things like, “What makes me so special that I deserve to do that? Even while writing this book, making this blog and coaching, I belittled myself with why would anyone want to listen to me? I wouldn’t let someone else talked to me like that, but I took each gut-wrenching punched to my stomach.”
“Two, I finally had enough. No matter how strong and resilient of a fighter I was, I had to understand where my limits were. There are times where it’s smarter to tap out than continue to take the beating. It’s time to stop. At that point, one enough ended up stacking upon the other. I had enough of not feeling good enough too. Either way, as I see it, the word imposed limits on me, on my life and how good I could strive to be. Nothing was ever enough when it came to giving my work my all. I would give all I had until the job was done and done right. Do you see the problem here? Maybe I have a problem with the word enough because what I was trying to do was prove that I was more than enough to my family, to my colleagues, my bosses, my friends, to random strangers on the street and most importantly to myself.”
“Maybe in order to be less selfless and better to me, what I needed to recognize was that in all situations in life and work, my harmony involved a view of myself that was enough. My workaholic side craves the accolades that a job well done would bring in order to prove that I was more than enough. My self-discovery journey has led me to understand that in order to embrace the good parts of being a workaholic. I must understand that the person I am is enough to create a lasting harmony amongst all the aspects of my life.”
That is the end of Chapter 1.5.
“I am not good enough” is the biggest limiting belief I’ve told myself over and over again, and it still keeps up. I’ve been telling myself that for years, decades, so it’s not going to go away just like that. This is decades of programming because I’ve continued seeking out stories, reasons or excuses to prove that “See, I told you I wasn’t good enough,” so that I could stay within my comfort zone. I stayed small. I stayed hidden because I didn’t feel good enough and it sucked feeling that way.
I had to tell myself no more. I had enough of not feeling good enough either. I had to declare that to myself. I am more than enough. I am exactly who I need to be to do what I want in my life. I had to learn how to love myself and seek for my own approval instead. I needed to value myself. I needed to accept myself and know that I am more than enough. I had to change the story.
This leads to your first exercise.
“Exercise 1A: Your turn. Take stock of your own life.”
“Now that you know my story, let’s take a look at yours. Where are you in your life? Answer these questions quickly within one to two seconds without much thought. Overthinking screws the results, and be honest with yourself. At this exact moment of your life, disregarding what your current mood is like. Would you answer the following statements as true or false? Even if it’s maybe true, answer it as true. This is meant to be a quick gauge of where you could be at. It’s a great exercise to come back to these questions to see how your life has changed after going through the processes in this book. Here are the statements:”
“There is nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing than this job. True or false?”
“I wake up super excited about going into work no matter what day it is. True or false?”
“I set good clear boundaries as I don’t take my work home with me. True or false?”
“I have good, healthy relationships outside of work. True or false?”
“I feel fulfilled in life and have no regrets. True or false?”
“Changing and stepping out of my comfort zone doesn’t scare me. True or false?”
“I take responsibility for the results in my life. True or false?”
“Let’s review the results. How many statements did you answer true to? How do you feel after answering those questions? Does this help highlight things that you want to work on in your life? Let’s go deeper. Get a pen and some paper or type it out.”
“Write down exactly where you’re at in your life and where you want to go. Be specific. After you’re done with that, ask yourself why that’s important to you. Repeat the “why” question at least twice to dig deeper into what matters to you.”
“For example, “I feel trapped in a job that I used to derive a lot of satisfaction from. I used to love getting up and heading into work every day and I didn’t mind the long hours, but now I found that something is missing. I’m not sure exactly what I want yet, but I know I want more.”
“I think I feel like I’m missing out on other aspects of life because I spent so much time working. I’d like to have a relationship. I like to go out more. I had to travel more, but this is still confusing because I’m very proud of my work.”
“Why am I proud of my work?” “Because the work itself is challenging and I love the problem-solving aspect of it.” I also love that it affords me.”
“Continue writing down exactly where you’re at in your life and continue asking why if you want too. When you’re done and behaving like an inquisitive toddler with your workaholic self, take a moment and look at all of your answers and asks yourself a very important question. Are the answers to my why’s serving all of my needs?”
“The most important word in that question is “all,” quickly followed by “my” and “needs.” The problem is not that you are a workaholic. The actual problem has to do more with how you’re harmonizing your work in life. You haven’t trained your workaholic self to see the value in work-life harmony yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Let’s continue to find out.”
That is the end of Exercise 1A.
Have fun with it and see what comes out. Stay tuned for another reading of a chapter from my book, Dear Workaholics.
Until then, you got this. I’m here with you.