Dushka Zapata is a freelance writer and executive coach.
I was drowning in work.
I was convinced this was because my job was demanding but as I shuffled my responsibilities around, switched jobs and ultimately became a freelancer so I could call my own shots I was still drowning, drowning in work.
It finally caught up to me that it’s me. I have a tendency to drown myself in work and the problem is not the job I’m in.
One of the reasons why work-life balance is hard is because we attribute the problem to our environment when it’s us. I am the problem.
I adore making my clients happy. “Dushka, your work was incredible.” “Dushka, we would not have survived without you.” This is primal. Me, a kid, making someone I love proud. Good girl.
What can get in the way of work-life balance is that approval often matters more than the balance I claim I want.
I am ambitious and want to do great things and as soon as a project is done I’m hungry for the next one. I want hard work. I want to push myself, test myself. I want to learn.
Sometimes work-life balance is hard because there is a discrepancy between what I say I want and what I really, truly want. I’m sending everyone mixed signals, including myself.
I don’t know what I want. I want conflicting things. I want everything.
My life is constantly changing. If a friend is visiting from out of town I want to work less, if I happen to be particularly inspired I want to work more, if a family member needs me I don’t want to have to worry about work at all.
Work-life balance is hard because my definition of it is a moving target. It means different things to me depending on where my life is at.
What is work-life balance, anyway? Does it mean I get to go home every day when the clock strikes 5:00? Does it mean that I work hard for a few weeks and then take a long weekend off? Do I want daily balance, or do I want things to balance out over the course of a few weeks, even months?