Work-life balance is impossible: Try Acceptance Commitment Therapy instead.

Think about one of those old scales that have two sides, like the one in the photo above. What does it take to balance those scales? It takes the EXACT same weight on each side of the scale to be in balance. How hard is that to do? Unless you are balancing 2 dumbbells of the same weight, it is pretty hard to do.

Work-life balance is Impossible: Try accpetance COmmitment Therapy Instead

When we strive for work-life balance we are asking ourselves to be perfect….for the work side to exactly equally the life side of the scale and vice versa. Impossible. So what are we setting ourselves up for by placing this unattainable standard on ourselves? SHAME and lots of it. When we expect ourselves to reach an unattainable goal, and we do not reach the goal (because we can’t), we feel shame and guilt. We have thoughts of “not good enough”…”I am not a good enough parent”, “I am not good enough at my job”, “I am not a good enough wife”, etc. These thoughts of “not enough” cause us to feel shame and guilt. Then where do we find ourselves? In a place of self-criticism and possibly self-loathing. Nothing good or positive happens in this place.

If work-life balance is not a healthy standard, what should we be striving for?

Acceptance Commitment Therapy with empower counseling:

It is healthier and much more fulfilling to spend our time and our energy being mindful and intentional with our time toward what is most important to us. What we spend our time on is important but how we go about what we spend our time is equally important. Let me explain.

At Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama, our counselors practice Acceptance Commitment Therapy. We help move clients away from striving for perfect work-life balance, perfect anything really, because it is unattainable and, therefore, a complete waste of time. Instead we examine all 8 domains or areas of the client’s life, so that the client becomes very aware of what is most important to the client. Then we work on prioritizing these values in morning and weekly mindfulness routines. During these routines clients are able to choose what is most important to them for that week. Once our clients prioritize these values, we help them schedule actions toward these values into their weekly schedule.

Work-life balance is impossible: Mindful and intentional time mangement.

SO our clients learn to mindfully and intentionally schedule action toward what is most important to them that week. That is the “what” we choose to focus our time on rather that the wasted pursuit of perfection. How our clients go about living their routines is just as important as the mindful and intentional choices about how to spend their time.

With striving for the perfect work-life balance comes rigidity. I mean there is only one perfect answer, right? That means there will be disappointment, unmet expectations, guilt, and shame if anything less that the desired outcome of perfection occurs.

Although the weekly mindfulness routines we help our clients establish are important to their satisfaction and fulfillment in life, it is the way our clients learn to go about them that happens to be the most important aspect of the therapy. At Empower Counseling, we help our clients strive to be process focused, rather than only being focused on results. Our clients create plans and routines with flexibility and forgiveness because they understand their satisfaction in life depends on it. No matter how well planned out our schedules are, life happens. Nothing goes perfectly as planned. Our weekly mindfulness routines, approached with flexibility and forgiveness, allow our clients to pivot when needed instead of throwing the entire plan out the window when one thing goes wrong.

We want to approach our weekly routines and schedules with flexibility so that when something does not go as plan, we bend instead of break. There is one more important mindfulness aspect to how we approach taking action toward important domains, rather than striving for work-life balance.

100% present:

When striving for perfect work-life balance, we are often worried about one part of our lives while we are attempting to participate in the other. When we are at home, we are often thinking about work. When we are at work, we are often thinking about problems at home. Of course this is going to happen because we are trying to think ahead and position ourselves to be perfect in both. However, it has the opposite effect. If we are not fully present, engaged in what is going on around us when we are at home, we can not fully enjoy life at home. If we are thinking about home while at work, we can not be fully engaged and giving our best at work.

But if we are not asking ourselves to be perfect, and instead, we are determining week by week, what is most important to us that week, we give ourselves the option of being fully present for each activity. Being 100% fully present and engaged with whatever you are doing in that moment, is how you achieve total satisfaction and fulfillment—not by thinking about what you need to do at work when you are at home and vice versa. We do not have to perfectly balance the amount of time we spend at work and at home. Instead we will achieve greater fulfillment by deciding to be all in doing whatever we are doing while we are doing it.

Work-life balance is impossible and a waste of time and energy. Instead, try Acceptance Commitment Therapy with Empower Counseling. Our knowledgeable and compassionate counselors will help you become clear about what you value. We will help you prioritize and develop weekly mindfulness routines. Then you will learn mindfulness so you will able to be 100% engaged in whatever you are doing in the moment.

Our counselors, Kathryn, Adam, and Kristine, are all trained in Acceptance Commitment Therapy. We offer anxiety counseling, counseling for depression, counseling for difficult life transitions, and addiction in our Birmingham, Alabama counseling office. If you are a teen, college student, young adult or professional, reach out to Empower for help today. 205-730-6570.

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