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Work-Life-Balance – The balance between work and life. Isn’t work life then? I’m sorry, I can’t understand the term and I won’t hear it any longer. Here are my own thoughts about it. 

A client has just asked me in a conversation what I think about work-life balance. Honestly: nothing at all. But I don’t want to hide the fact that at some point in my life I hoped that this term, or the idea behind it, would help me to feel better. 

There were times when I was stressed out, worked too much, did the wrong things and didn’t know how to use my free time. But even at that time, the then fashionable term could not help me. And then there were still people that worked much more than I did and were still satisfied. Help!!! In the end, no one could ever really explain to me what work-life balance was. 

But I know why I’m nevertheless feeling better today. What I changed has not only helped me, but can help anyone who does not feel balanced: 

Identify your drivers:

If you feel uncomfortably stressed, i.e. you don’t feel well, but you still carry on like this, then ask yourself why. What drives you? In my case, my drivers weren’t my own, but came from my family. Not directly by someone telling me what to do, but indirectly in what I had learned and adopted.  Such drivers usually have a long history. They can be nourished by Prussian discipline and Protestant self-abandonment, as in my case. But they can also have very different roots. Most of the time, you will not find the answers on your own. I needed some coaching to get rid of most of them and to be able to act only out of my own motivation. 

Forget compensation attempts:

If you work too much and it wears you down, you might try to compensate for this in another area of your life. Looking for action, a thrill or – as it was with me – retail therapy. I had the feeling that if I worked a lot and earned money, I could also spend a lot. Shopping promised me the kick. Shopping promised me a better life. And sometimes it felt that way for a very short time.

By contrast, things that were really good for me felt more like a yearning that could never be satisfied to the extent that I needed it. Bummer. Today I have found out for myself that I need variety and real creativity, nature and beauty, and as a counterbalance relaxation, for example through daily yoga. These elements have a growing place in my life. But they are not a universal recipe. It is rather about finding out what is really good for you and integrating it into your life. And that brings us to the next point.

Find your motivation:

Why are there people that are truly happy when they focus on their work? People who voluntarily and gladly work beyond the official retirement age. Usually these are people who have found their mission and motivation. Something that makes their lives meaningful. Mostly not only for themselves, but also for others. This can also have many facets.

My mission is to inspire others – through my example and in my coaching sessions. If I can do that, I see no reason why I should stop working at 65. This mission is coherent and I enjoy it. I get energy when I coach others and I come alive when I have written a good blog post that helps my readers. Other people’s mission could be to build the best plug for fibre optic connections or to make outdoor clothing that is CO2 neutral. But you might also want to be the best family man, a meeting centre for your friends or a dog rescuer. I am convinced that if a mission can be at least partially beneficial for the world, it can work. It can be an incentive, motivation and balance at the same time. What could that look like for you?

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