Work Life Balance – Journey or Destination?

Work-Life-Balance-Sign-post-by-Stuart-MilesThat elusive lifestyle where we devote equal amounts of energy on career and all of the other important areas of our lives – health, family, faith – is the balance that we women continually strive to strike. Imagine what our lives would look like if we actually found that balance? What would your day look like? Here is how I envision my balanced day:

Sleep: 8 hours; Work: 8 hours; Family: 3 hours; Self: 2 hours; Spirituality: 1 hour; Key relationships: 2 hours

It’s fun to fantasize about having a day like this! The fact that I might only get 6 hours of sleep, 1 hour with my husband and the rest is swallowed up by work and my commute does not discourage me from trying to carve time to exercise, to spend time with family or to meditate some time during the week. I learned to adjust my expectations knowing that what I have to deal with every day does not stay in discreet buckets. Work seeps into home time and home issues seep into work time. Allowing that interplay has helped me feel more balanced.

One of my colleagues is a master time manager. Her schedule is quite intimidating. She will admit that her calendar makes her unavailable for the random conversation at work. But, it is her way of achieving work-life balance. I share that to say that there is no right formula for how we try to achieve balance. We try different tactics until we find the one that works for us.

To better navigate the journey towards work-life balance, I found it’s best to leave behind all of that baggage! You know, the guilt baggage about not meeting our own unrealistic expectations of being super-Woman to all. The destination of work-life balance is not the utopia we believe it to be. I think work-life balance is a moving target and the state we seek changes according to our goals and priorities, which change at different stages of our lives. So, work-life balance is not a destination but rather a never ending journey of awareness of how we spend our time. Over a lifetime, the search for work-life balance is our way of questioning, testing and discovering our life’s purpose.

If you’re frustrated because you are feeling your life is unbalanced, try different tactics until you are devoting time to priority areas in your life. But then, let go of the guilt and the belief in a final destination. Focus on the journey you are on to discover your life’s purpose.

If you’re life were more balanced, what would it look like? I look forward to your comments!

Much Love,

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Taking Time To Rebalance

woman balancing a basket of fruitWhen I finally sat down in my meditation space earlier this week I immediately felt something was off. My meditation space is a small area where I keep things that help connect me to my spiritual self. Candles, photos, crystals, incense, all have a spot on the tabletop just as I have placed them. Yet somehow, even though I had not moved anything, there seemed to be an imbalance. As I began to melt into the serenity of the space, I received the message that it is time to rebalance. I moved things around until it felt right. And, after my meditation, I looked to rebalance the rest of my life.

Balance seems to be an elusive state of being. We all seem to be seeking the perfect combination of time and energy spent on the things that matter…family and relationships, health and well-being, purpose, spirituality and work. I know that we carry a lot of guilt around the fact that work seems to take up a majority of our time and energy, leaving little to no time for the other things we have or wish to have. I recently met with a group of working moms who shared with me their challenges. Teacher/parent meetings, afterschool activities, or a child suddenly becoming ill at school causes a great deal of stress to any parent, but especially to those that have to coordinate between the school and the workplace. To top it off, there appears to be a cultural divide between moms that work outside the home and moms that don’t, which these moms said, was palpable whenever there is a school function.  These women shared that they had learned to deal with it by accepting it for what it was and making the best of it. What a great attitude!

This week’s meditation message made me wonder – are we meant to have a balanced life? I mean, how can we possibly have enough time and energy for everything? Is it healthy to strive to be SuperWoman? Perhaps we have to look at balance in a different way. I picture the women I saw in my country who balanced enormous baskets of fruit or tortillas on their heads as they walked down the street. I think that that’s what we are trying to do – carry it all in one basket atop of our heads. But, that is not the only way. We can achieve a sense of balance by accepting that we can only put three to four things in our basket at a time. On a daily basis, we have a menu of things that need our attention, but we must choose which combination of things to take on. Whatever does not fit in our basket should be delegated or set aside, without guilt, until we rebalance. A rebalance can be temporary or permanent. Right now I feel that life is challenging me to rebalance. How do I know this? I am heeding the signs, like the one I received at my meditation space. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read my blog on reading the signs. But, in rebalancing there is one thing I know for sure: one of the things in my basket must always be me.

If you are struggling with guilt for not achieving balance in your life, perhaps you’re trying to balance too many things at once. Are you making time for yourself? Making time to recharge is essential to feeling balanced. Release the guilt and accept that the combination of things that are most important to you right now is what you will devote your time and energy to. Commit to yourself that you will rebalance and devote yourself to a different combination of things as soon as you are able to.

Balance does not have to be elusive if we accept to take on only the things that are most important to us right now. Accept that achieving balance means taking on less and rebalancing when needed. I pray that this evening finds you at peace with your decision to rebalance and making time for yourself.

Much Love,