Is There Such a Thing as "Work-Life Balance"?
The illusion of “work-life" balance.
So many working mothers aspire for this unattainable concept. Have you tried to maintain “work-life balance”?
What does that really mean?
When I first experienced overload as a new mom with a career that involved frequent travel, it felt like a new kind of pressure. There was this expectation (that came from within to be perfectly honest) to be a great mom but to also not let my career suffer (or let down my clients & team).
After years of trying to keep things “in balance” I realized that I was chasing a rainbow. Such a beautiful idea, but I was simply never going to find the proverbial pot of gold.
When I left the corporate world to start Ridgeway Soapworks, the challenge to keep the balls in the air became more difficult. With fewer resources to get more done, the temptation to work ALL THE TIME was very strong. The illusive work-life balance became more distant.
At this point, I realized I was chasing the impossible notion that everything could get done everyday. There was simply no way. When I spent time with my family, I felt guilty that I wasn’t working, and vice versa when working on the business. I didn’t feel that way all the time, but enough that I felt pulled in two opposite directions.
Over the next few years, I developed a new aspiration. One that is actually possible for me, and is easier to keep tabs on. It has four parts, that when honored, leaves me feeling productive, calm & motivated.
1. Boundaries. I protect what is most important. Dinner with my family, for example. I don’t let work keep me from being with my husband and son in the evening to eat dinner together
2. Priorities. I spend a lot of time managing my calendar, and my time. I rank my tasks in order of importance, and aim to get the important stuff done first. This helps ensure that I move towards the goals every day
3. Recharging is NECESSARY. Most Saturdays, we head to our off-grid place for time away. No internet, no chores, no daily life stuff. Just time to hang with my family, read, play in the creek & enjoy the outdoors. This is MY way to fill my cup back up, and allows me to start the week ready to go. It is important to make time to recharge because when I am out of gas, I show up poorly in many aspects of my life
4. Reflection helps me grow. Being self-aware regarding my strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement has shown me so many ways to become a better version of myself. It is NOT about beating myself up for things I could have done better, it is just about leveraging the daily chances to explore other ways to handle challenges, conflicts and opportunities.
Ignoring your emotions is very dangerous.
It is through understanding how we feel, and why we feel that way, that we can control and manage emotions better.
This journey through life is emotional at times, and when I am in charge of how I react to things, I am far more likely to handle situations responsibly.
I no longer strive for “balance” because that feels to me like for me to excel in one area, I have to sacrifice something else important to me.
Instead I focus on protecting boundaries, prioritizing, recharging and reflection. Those are all concepts I can embrace and attain.