I feel like this is something everyone struggles with and especially architects.
I whish I could say that my work is so rewarding that my life is always in balance. But that’s only true half of the time.
How does one achieve the ever elusive, “work / life balance?”
First I think you have to get clear on what you want out of both.
For some people a good LIFE means partying in the spectacle of big city nightlife, several nights a week, for other’s it is more about relaxing “home on the range” style. And maybe you see yourself somewhere in the middle. But you have to be clear with yourself about exactly what that perfect LIFE looks like for you.
For some people a good WORK life is just one that pays the bills and doesn’t get in the way. For others, a good work life is about making beautiful buildings and having an impact on the world, which takes a lot of effort.
I, personally, am addicted to the action and I err on the side of working hard rather than relaxing. And while my life may appear outwardly (and inwardly sometimes) to be really hard, it’s actually really rewarding because it is what makes me happy and fulfilled.
But I had to come to terms with that.
Maybe you would actually hate city life and would rather be in a peaceful town that didn’t have ambulances driving outside your window every five minuets. Maybe working until 7 pm every day would never be worth it to you, even if you were working on beautiful buildings.
Don’t let me (or anyone else) tell you what you want and don’t want.
That is one of the most important steps to finding work / life balance.
If you live and work in a way that is aligned with what you want, you will be happy. And that’s really the end goal of “balance” right?
But speaking of balance…
Balance is something that is not achieved and checked off. Whether balancing on one foot or weighing out ideas like “work” and “life,” balancing takes constant adjustments. So you may feel balanced one day and then two days later, feel like a workaholic, then bored of watching football and craving a challenge two weeks after that.
It’s tempting to tell yourself that you are bad at work / life balance because it seems like you are always falling out of it. But that is just the nature of balancing things.
That being said…
The work side of things can be really seductive at times, because looking back, it seems like a lot of the awesome stuff in my life is actually the result of hard work (as well as some luck.) I hate to think of it as a trade off though…as if you sacrifice your life for your work or vice versa. Because also, I think you can find your work so rewarding that it enhances your life… But nonetheless, you also need to have intimate relationships, go on adventures, and relax.
Personally, I am still trying to figure that balance out for myself.
I think that for other people like me who err on the side of working too hard, you have to be as diligent and proactive about the life side of things as you are about the work side of things.
Plan your vacations ahead of time. Join groups so you have peer pressure to LEAVE the office. Buy your ticket in advance. Show up to things late if you have too, because late is better than never. Commit to plans with people. Anticipate problems that may arise. And whatever you do, cultivate meaningful relationships.
But the point is that you have to clearly define what you want and put as much effort into that as you would for your work. I can tell you specifics on how to move to the big city and live near the nightlife spots, but you may not want that. Figure out what balance means to you. And remember, ultimately, balance is something that is difficult to achieve and fleeting once you have it. So don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with it.
In the words of John Legend,
that nobody really knows,
how to make it work.”
Note: This is a post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all post our response… this month’s theme: Work / Life to read how the others had to say please click the links below…
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Work | Life – Different Letters, Same Word
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Work / Life : Life / Work
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Work/Life…What an Architect Does
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The One Secret to Work – Life Balance
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
work | life :: dance
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Living an Integrated Life as a Small Firm Architect
Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio (@collier1960)
Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen (@archy_type)
Nicholas Renard – dig Architecture (@dig-arch)
Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc. (@hawkinsarch)
Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
what makes you giggle? #architalks
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
Turning It Off
Cindy Black – Rick & Cindy Black Architects (*)
Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Work/Life — A Merger
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project (@miss32percent)
Work Life Fit: A New Focus for Blurred Lines
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks: Imbalanced and uninterrupted
Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #12: Balance is a Verb.
Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
I Just Can’t Do This Anymore
Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
An Architect’s House
brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Brady Ernst – Family Man Since 08/01/2015
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Father, Husband, Architect – typically in that order
Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC (@Parthenon1)
Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
midnight in the garden of [life] and [work]
Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Work = 1/3 Life
Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)
David Molinaro – Relax2dmax (@relax2dmax)
Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)
Work Life Balance: Architecture and Babies – 5 Hints for Expecting Parents
Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Work is Life
Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
studio / life
Lindsey Rhoden – SPARC Design (@sparcdesignpc)
Work Life Balance: A Photo Essay