Remember going to your favorite arcade to play the game “Whac-a-Mole?” Those were the days!

For those less familiar with the game, the object is to strike inanimate (and seemingly semi-robotic) mole figurines with a rubber mallet as they randomly pop-up from holes in the playing board. The speed at which the moles pop-up changes intermittently…so does the number of moles popping up during different phases of the game. Contestants scores points each time they successfully strike the moles.

The game is fast-paced, and it feels unrelenting. After a while, no matter how gifted the contestant is with superior hand-eye coordination, it seems in the heat of the moment that the moles are always winning. As the contestant feels the moles gaining the upper hand, it makes the calmest of contestants start to swing wildly — almost as if they are aiming at thin air as the moles either stay hidden, only partially pop-up, or pop-up quicker than before.

This creates an urgency that is akin to uncontrolled chaos. The contestant ends up drained — both physically and mentally — from the extreme stress and excessive number of missed poundings trying to whack a certain number of moles. The harder one tries, the worse one performs at hitting the ever-elusive moles.

I don’t know about you, but it sure felt like work during the pandemic was a lot like playing Whac-a-Mole, but it wasn’t a game.

The Pandemic Toll on Work-Life Balance

For many professionals, maintaining proper balance between work and personal responsibilities is an ongoing struggle. And, as the saying goes, “the struggle is real!”

The reality of the pandemic has been like nothing ever experienced before. Success during the pandemic required making immediate decisions without complete information or making strategic adjustments based on new information without being able to consider unforeseen ripple-effects and contingencies due to ever-changing conditions. It seemed the rules of engagement kept changing weekly…if not daily. These pressures created cascading uncertainty and stress.

Many working professionals lament the frustration of having their intentions and best-laid plans waylaid. After a while, for many, the boundaries between work and home responsibilities blurred and then became indistinguishable. Almost suddenly, too much of a good thing became excessive. Many of these working professionals are reporting feeling overloaded and overwhelmed by the convergence of time and space boundaries of work and life. Many are reexamining their desired work-life balance. Some are taking steps to reestablish better boundaries and using guardrails of self-care practices, accountability partners, and life coaches.

How to Achieve Work-Life Balance

So, what can Whac-a Mole teach us about work-life balance? The best players at this game have a confident mindset with several qualities and characteristics. They:

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to stop playing Whac-a-Mole. With the change in seasons and the approaching holidays, I’m consciously recommitting to take more time and effort to recharge my batteries. For starters, I’m going to leave my Whac-a Mole mallet behind. Then, I’m going to take a ride on a slower-paced, more predictable carousel to restore a healthier work-life balance. Care to join me? Grab your favorite seat and relax with a peaceful ride!