By Mich Bondesio, Creating Cadence
The lie we've been sold
We’ve been brainwashed into believing that achieving work-life balance is a measure of professional success.
How you can have it all, but only if you can balance it all.
Striving for balance involves attempting to juggle all the parts of our work and life evenly, so everything gets an equal part of our attention. But there’s a lot demanding our attention these days and only so much of our time and energy to go around.
When it comes to building our businesses, communicating our message to attract the right customers, and supporting our clients to solve their challenges, that can be a lot to juggle, let alone balance.
The energy it takes attempting to maintain balance on top of a heavy workload is, in fact, detrimental to our productivity. It can also be extremely stressful and fatiguing, which can lead to burnout. And when we burn out, our creativity and performance takes a dive.
In real terms, this can affect the way we communicate and collaborate with our team or clients. It can be detrimental to our messaging, our marketing and how we deliver our services. It can trash our decision making and strategic thinking.
Bottom line…aiming for balance can push us to a point where we don’t function at our best, and our wellbeing and productivity become compromised.
And yet, the goal of balance prevails, firmly entrenched in a toxic status quo that dictates how we “should” approach work and business.
Here’s the thing…
Balance is bullsh*t
Sniggering aside, in this context it truly is!
Let me explain.
When we achieve a semblance of work/life balance, it’s usually only for a brief moment. And when things are out of balance, it makes our brain feel like we’ve failed. Balance is a static concept, it doesn’t move. Yet, life, work and business are constantly moving around us, and we need to be able to move with them. We need to adapt to the changing needs around us if we want to keep up with the pace of a noisy, busy marketplace, alongside the day-to-day needs of our business. Balance is restrictive as it holds us back from activating our potential. A better way to approach our business strategy is to focus on creating cadence.
What is Cadence?
And why does it matter for our business and brand? The word cadence refers to rhythm, pace and movement. Creating cadence is about being able to create momentum in the various elements of how we live and work. When we focus on cadence instead of balance, we can keep moving forwards in all facets of our business and life, even when one part of it is demanding more than the rest. Cadence is the antithesis of balance. It’s all about flow.
Think about the wheels of a bicycle. When your wheels run true, you have a smooth onward journey. But when your rim is buckled, a spoke is broken, or you have a slow puncture, it slows you down and can take you off course. Creating cadence is about staying the course, at a flexible pace that’s more suitable to you, despite the fast-paced world we work in. We do this by building strong foundations that support our wellbeing, productivity and creativity, so that we can show up for work as our best selves, irrespective of what stresses and strains may be thrown at us. The key to creating cadence is intentionally developing flexible and elastic behaviors, habits, routines, systems, and workflows, which we can adapt or adjust to the needs of our days and weeks. When we focus on cadence, we’re able to support our productive outputs and creativity better, whilst maintaining the health of ourselves and our business.
Applying Cadence to brand & business
1. Creating cadence involves aligning your business values with your personal values, so that you can be more purpose-driven in the way you do business. This translates directly into how you demonstrate your brand values and communicate your message out there in the world. The stories you tell are personal. The value you communicate is relatable. With a cadence-first approach, you and your brand are seen as being more authentic. As we know, people gravitate towards people who are true to themselves, because it creates a deeper level of trust. 2. Creating cadence also places wellbeing at the heart of how you run your business. If you want to stand out in your niche, then focusing on sustainable business practices is an undervalued way to do this. A typical work day for many involves succumbing to a hamster wheel of crazy deadlines, incessant meetings, fire fighting our inboxes, and working at all hours, for days on end. But, when we prioritize good physical and mental health instead, we’re able to operate more consistently, efficiently and effectively over the long term. And set boundaries around how we work, so the craziness of overwork doesn’t take over. Putting wellbeing first builds our resilience, so that we have the stamina to power through shorter periods of high pressure, and bounce back more quickly once the stressful times have passed. This is how the rhythm of our work can support better collaboration and performance. It involves structuring your workflow to accommodate ebbs and flows, where a fast-paced dance of intense work gives way to adequate time for rest and recovery and includes intentional space for creativity and strategic thinking.
Wellbeing for the win
Studies show that when we prioritize wellbeing, the knock-on effects range from improving our communication, creative outputs and decision making skills, to heightening our levels of concentration and strengthening our focus.
When we’re operating at our best, this helps us to show up for our clients more professionally and reliably, too. These types of behaviors also build trust and loyalty.
Focusing on creating cadence instead of striving for balance is a strategic differentiator on several levels.
It will set you apart from the fray. It will elevate your voice above the noise. It will help the right customers to find you.
What small steps can you take to build momentum and work with purpose, so that you, too, can craft a more meaningful life?
(Tip: I write about several ways you can do this in my book, the Cadence Effect)
Mich (with an ‘ish”) is an author, coach and consultant on a mission to disrupt the toxic status quo of overwork. After 20 years working across creative and digital industries, an epic bout of burnout spurred her to change the conversation around what "being productive" and "working well" looks like. She now helps high achievers, creative founders, solo entrepreneurs, and small teams around the world to transform how they work.
Her recent book The Cadence Effect is about ways to craft a more meaningful life with the aid of intentionally productive habits. Under the Creating Cadence banner, Mich writes a newsletter, hosts The Creating Cadence podcast (Danielle was a guest on Episode 47), and delivers talks, workshops and private coaching programmes on digital wellness, intentional productivity and the future of work.
Mich is about more than work though. A Gen Xer raised on cheesy 80s music, she’s also a nature lover, travel nut, closet doodler, and appreciator of creativity, craft and design. In her next life, she wants to be a best-selling trashy novel writer! She shares snapshots of her life beyond work on Insta or you can friend her formally on LinkedIn.