I am of the now-common opinion that there is no such thing as ‘work/life balance’. That is because you have a life, and work is only part of it. They are in no way this-or-that, separate and binary entities.

People feel ‘out of balance’ when they are either avoiding work by taking refuge in the morass of often-petty shit in their own or the lives of others, most famously family, or by being obsessed with work. With the latter, work becomes a hiding place. Everything else becomes an existential confrontation.  More than likely, that is at the heart of someone’s ‘work/life im-balance’.

This is why coaches are famous for assigning the ‘life wheel’ at the beginning of a coaching relationship, and I am no exception. The wheel represents Life, a pie made up of different slices: spiritual, financial, career, environment, health/self-care, self-development, fun, community, family, romance. 

I think it’s fine to define your own slices. Some are inescapable, like finances, family, community, health/self-care and environment.  Your wheel could include creativity, political activism or whatever else. 

The outer edge of the circle is optimal. Closer to the center is lacking. If you make a line across each section as it corresponds to how that area of life is going, you get a shape. 

For most of us, it’s a jagged one. Try making a wheel for yourself and complete the exercise of drawing lines, or making a dot as corresponds to how you’re doing in each area, and connect them. What areas are nearest to the middle? How do they correspond to other areas? It’s not uncommon for career to be inversely related to romance. This is not good or bad. It’s just information. Is there a connection between these slices? It may be worth exploring.

If you are a creative, you will become cranky and unpleasant if you do not create in some way. It may seem as though you are ‘stealing’ from some other area of your life when you focus on your creative work, but you are not. Professional artists know this. Which is not to say that for some, the romance piece of their life-pie is at a ten because they are not in a relationship. 

Again, its about what’s true for you. 

As a theater artist, my creative work has been an extension of the entire pie. I would have nothing to say or explore without my experiences of family, community, romance, society, all of it. At one point, to keep my family going without sacrificing myself creatively, we hired child care. This was in the best interest of the child. Because by week six of motherhood I may have literally thrown the baby out with the bathwater if I were not able to get back to writing and acting.

So what about you? What makes up your work and life as a creative?  What, by way of inclusion, does your spirit find non-negotiable? 

The non-negotiables are a good barometer when it comes to making choices all around.