Alright, unpopular opinion time: There’s no such thing as work/life balance. Anyone who says they have achieved the perfect balance in their personal & professional lives is full of BS.
I’m starting 2015 off on a positive note, aren’t I?
But, in all seriousness, I truly believe that this elusive balance is something we need to stop striving for—because it doesn’t exist. And we’re all driving ourselves a little crazy thinking that we can attain it…then always falling short.
When I made the switch from a hard-earned career in law to my own PR agency a decade ago, I was hoping to ultimately have more balance in my life and more time with my kids when I became a mom. While it’s never easy to get everything done, and I still find myself working hard all of the time, I do feel that I have found more of the balance I was seeking and am very lucky to have a career where I’m still able to be part of my young children’s lives—not because I’ve found the secret to attaining “work/life balance,” but because I’m gentle with myself, accept my limitations, and give my sole attention to whatever (work) or whomever (my husband & my kids) needs it at any given moment.
As working moms (and dads), it’s all too easy to get caught up in the idea that you don’t have enough—or, more often, that you aren’t giving enough—to every area of your life. Can I make a gentle suggestion? Cut yourself some slack.
Instead of beating yourself up over everything you’re not doing, try to remember that you’re doing the best you can with what you have. Just changing your mental script can be so powerful. Replace the negative messages you are sending yourself with positive affirmations and you’ll likely accomplish more in work and life than you thought was possible.
(I know it sounds woo-woo, but it works. I promise.)
And honestly? Maybe some people truly feel balanced in their work and their personal lives all the time—but I don’t know any of those people. Even those who seem like they have it all together will tell you they have their own struggles. (Raises hand.) Nothing or nobody is perfect, myself included—and I try my best daily to be ok with that.
Instead of constantly seeking a perfect 50/50 balance between the work that you do and the life that you lead, make a commitment to stay present and focused on wherever you are and whatever needs your attention in a given moment.
Did you know that “No.” is a complete sentence? It requires no explanation, no justification. Embracing “No” is very empowering. Value your time and say “no” strategically, and try not to let the anxiety or guilt or FOMO weigh you down.
As we start this new year, I challenge you to change your perspective on “balance”—instead of trying to perfectly do it all, seek to be happy and be present. Celebrate the natural peaks and valleys of your life and recognize them for what they are—opportunities to learn. Once you do that, I think you’ll find that your life will naturally settle into whatever is the perfect “balance” for you.