Does work/life balance exist?
I was interviewed about a week ago about being a working mother and received the infamous question about work life balance:
How do you juggle it all and have some sense of balance?
I soooo wanted to tell women what we all want to hear.
It is that:
I have found a formula for having it ‘all!’ It is that there IS such a thing called “work life balance.”
But alas… that is not the real answer…
Telling the Truth
To be truthful, I have no idea what “having it all” actually means. Nor do I know by what means this “allness” is judged and determined.
From experience, I know that no one gets to have it all. Certainly no one gets to have it all at once.
I am reminded of a PBS show about a woman who walks a tight rope. She said there is no such thing as balance; there is only being present to shifting weight, adjusting for the imbalance that is always present.
Investigation into Balance
Though I do not have a panacea for the working-parent juggling act, I have developed a way of thinking about that side-to-side shifting action.
Consider these insights:
1. Keep Adjusting
Growing a business and a family is a dance, as well as an invention. There is no destination just a long road (hopefully) filled with micro adjustments and sometimes larger ones in the structural domain.
2. Think Long-Term
This allows me to have it all, over a long time horizon. Many successful women with families have passed down the wisdom that we can have it all, just not all at once. Thinking long-term allows for the space for this to wisdom to manifest.
For example, in my twenties and thirties, I spent a huge amount of time nurturing my friendships, cultivating deep abiding connections and building a personal community. Now raising a young child and building my company, Seven Stones Leadership, I am spending less time nurturing those friendship connections than I ever have.
With the lens of long-term, I look at the whole of my life and see that I have had times of building connections with friends and now I spend my time and resources building my family and my business community.
3. Let Go, Over and Over Again
There is what I think I can do, and then there is what I can actually do, the ‘what is,’ or reality, of the situation. Simple as that. My ideas about what works for me, my family, and my work do not often match with what actually works.
In those moments, I dig deep into my practices to walk the talk I teach, the truth of exquisite sufficiency – being enough already.
I let go of my expectations and assumptions, my resistance to reality. I keep declaring that what I have done that day or that week or that quarter is enough, not only because I say so and because everyone is actually ok, thriving even, but because this act of declaration aligns me with reality.
Ultimately this alignment opens up space and generates flow and what we might call balance.
4. More is Not Better
Lynne Twist calls the cultural credo, “More is Better,” a toxic myth of scarcity.
The wanting to have-it-all is often sourced from this myth and is considered by many of us as the pinnacle of self-realization, of having arrived somewhere, finally. Having it all from the perspective of exquisite sufficiency – the inquiry into enoughness – is the booby prize.
We have a client at the top of his game, crescendo of his industry. With all his wealth, fame and success, he is not satisfied, not happy he says. So, once you get it all, what do you do with it? Does it nourish you, support you, feed your self-worth or your self-loathing? When we pause for a moment, we begin to see that the very question of having it all is sourced from a conversation of scarcity.
5. Live Inside New Questions
Have questions that feed your soul and are truly sustainable.
- What is enough for me, my business, my family, my soul?
- Where does my wanting stem from?
- If it is scarcity, can I ask myself what I might want if I knew I were enough and that I had enough right now?
- How do I define balance? How would I know I had it? How do I know when I don’t?
- How can I create a support system wide and deep enough in which I can nurture all aspects of myself and experience all I want to experience?
- If I stopped trying so hard to create balance in my life, what would be present and possible for me?
Set an Intention:
Today I am going to give up balance and go for creating what works for me in every moment.
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Filed under: Life Balance