What is balance anyway? Many books have been written on the topic. Amazon offers 149 books on “Work Life Balance”. I find the topic fascinating as I watch days pass quickly and see a new generation tackle this important topic.
We all have responsibilities. At home we care for our children and eventually our parents. Our homes need care and tending. Our bodies need care and tending – eating right, exercising. We need to earn a living so we must care for our careers and daily business responsibilities.
All of this in 24 hours a day.
The question is how to make all that work into something like balance?
As a child of the 70s and an unabashed fan of Gloria Steinem, it never occurred to me to do anything but work while raising a family. My mother did it. I wanted to do it. I never planned on the divorce when my daughter was two years old but that divorce renewed my commitment to being a working mother. Somehow the choice of working or not just disappeared.
As part of an executive team for most of my working life since before my daughter was born 27 years ago, my hours were gruesome.
I changed jobs many times, mostly out of necessity after receiving difficult news. I like to tell people I have been laid off or terminated more than most people and always landed on my feet. The process of finding a new job is a balancing act in itself.
Somehow I managed to raise a strong, resourceful daughter but it took lots of help. My sister and her husband moved in for a while. I remarried and relocated to Ohio to create a solid base to support both the career and our three children from this blended relationship. The children survived and thrived. So did I.
It took lots of help. We divided the responsibilities. I can’t remember the last time I did laundry. Who has time? I figured out ways to tend the home and sneak in exercise to give priority to children and career.
I am not sure how any one person can get it all. I do know that we can get some of whatever you put your mind to. The key is organization. I am the queen of organization, although I know that I take on too much and can always get better.
For me, the key to figuring out a balance was having someone to help me hold myself accountable for the elements most important to me. Notice how I said that. I hold myself accountable to achieve the elements most important to me. Not everything. Just the most important things. To me. I can’t do everything that everyone wants me to do. Only the things that are important to me at the moment they need to be done.
Over 11 years ago I found a coach. Sherry Greenleaf helps me just by listening and asking good questions. The results come from my own efforts. What I choose to accomplish is completely up to me.
I think of the bits and pieces of life’s responsibilities as pieces of a puzzle. These responsibilities change over time. My career has been one of the primary responsibilities for a long time. For a while raising a child was another priority. Then as she grew and moved on to adulthood, my mother became a priority. Now I am in a different stage. Career is still important. My daughter is grown and on her own. My mom is a memory. Exercise and exploration take a priority now giving me more freedom than I experienced in the past.
No one can tell you what to prioritize in YOUR life or how you go about finding balance in your life. But, to me, the concept of balance is about finding ways to accomplish the few things that are important to you at the moment.
Ask yourself these important questions: What is important to you today? How will you set your priorities? How can you hold yourself accountable to what is important in your life at the moment? What tools will help you achieve your goals?