by Nicola Raimbert – Osteopath

What does it mean to have work / life balance? If we really think about that statement, it implies that work is not part of life. That’s just not true, nor possible. Many of us will interpret that statement as ‘work’ being negative and ‘life’ being positive. But what if you love your work? Should we be working just to live, or living for work? Should we simply just be living. 

I’m a self employed, full time working, mother of three and I love what I do passionately. I have the privilege of caring for people in times of physical pain and often emotional need. I feel honoured to hear the stories that my clients share. I relish the never ending journey of osteopathy in which there is always something more to learn, some other way to improve the care I provide. I love the challenge of being self-employed, learning to embrace the cons while making the most of the pros. 

Before I started my practice I was determined to ensure that I had work / life balance. I wanted to make sure that I was always there for my husband and my children. I wanted to avoid bringing work home with me. But that just wasn’t realistic. The majority of my hours in the clinic are spent with clients. Where do I do all my administration, finance, marketing and professional development if not at home? After all, there is always more to be done. 

At first I was uncertain about blurring the lines between home life and work. But the reality is that most of us have already blurred them digitally, if not physically. Email and social media allow us 24/7 access to work, whether we want it or not. I also realised that because I love what I do, whether I completed my tasks at home, or in the clinic was irrelevant. Work provides me with purpose and satisfaction. Even the tedious tasks of admin and finance, show me I’m achieving something. Contributing in a meaningful way to my family and to society. 

But what about those of us who don’t love their jobs passionately. Who clock in day in and day out, from necessity rather than satisfaction. Or those of us who don’t ‘work’. Stay at home mums and dads, adolescents, retirees, volunteers. Do their lives not also get busy and require balance?

At the end of the day, I don’t believe it’s about balancing ‘work’ and ‘life’ on two sides of a scale. Adding a little here, or removing a little there. I think its about priority and pace. It’s about knowing your boundaries,  prioritising what is most important and LIVING at a steady sustainable pace. 

Doing so requires self awareness. Taking the time to think about how you’re living not just what you’re doing. Is this a weekend that you need to relax and switch off? Do it. Are you keen to finish that work project after hours tonight? Do it. Are you trying to eat dinner, bath your children and respond to emails simultaneously? Maybe find another way. Pace rather than balance is how to ensure we don’t burn out.

Life is dynamic. There is no one solution, no perfect balance. But living at your chosen pace can give you time to enjoy, time to reflect, time to prioritise. Let us consider what we value, what gives us satisfaction and purpose. After all, if we love our work, is it still work? Or is it life?