When I work with women – with smart, competent, conscientious women just like you, I find that one of the biggest challenges they face is balancing their work and life. They are either struggling with mother’s guilt instead of savoring their successes at work. Or they are taking out time for their relationships and feeling frustrated that they’re stalling their professional growth.
There seems no fine line that allows then to have both. And even if there is, they don’t seem to have found it.
Most of us have been there. And it’s most painful in that middle stage of our career trajectory when the kids are growing up or still at home, and work is asking more of us in terms of time and responsibility. Despite our best efforts and our best time management tools and strategies, we feel out of balance most times, drained and burnt out sometimes, and happy only occasionally.
I’ve found that what helps the most is shifting our understanding of what this much sought after work-life balance looks like. We’ve been given the impression that life is like a Roman weighing scale, where a certain amount of work on the one scale can be perfectly balanced by an equal amount of “life” on the other.
But the reality is that life is far more like riding a bike. And as Albert Einstein said: “In order to keep your balance, you have to keep moving”. And we know this well. When we get caught up in any one aspect of our work or lives, everything comes to a standstill. Similarly, when we forget to tweak along as we go, or to adjust our to-do lists and schedules, we get stuck and feel out of control.
Work life balance is not perfect by any means. Its dynamic and its experimental. We may have it right one week, but it may totally fall apart the next. Instead of beating down on ourselves, we keep moving, we keep adjusting, we keep making intentional choices and decisions. For such is the journey.
If you find that your expectations of a perfect work-life balance are draining you of the joy of life and of being present in the moment without obsessing about being in control and about the aspects of your life you’re ‘neglecting”, take a breather and be gentle to yourself. You’re human, and you’re doing your best. And the best in this case is to keep the bike moving.
See how this shift in perspective affects you this week. And then come back and share your thoughts on my Facebook page!