4 Reasons to recycle your work-life balance scale
Are you exhausted from doing it all? Trying to have society's version of "it all?" Me, too. So let's stop. Let's recycle that ridiculous scale used to determine if we’re properly balancing our lives and careers. In fact, let's Office Space the heck out of it and smash that scale to smithereens.
When I had my oldest son, Charlie, who has Down syndrome and is now 4 years old, I was working full time in public relations. Each morning, I met Charlie's therapists at the door with wet hair, worked through the appointment and scrambled to get to the office without disrupting anyone's workflow.
I felt guilty for rushing, guilty for not being at work on time and guilty for feeling guilty about doing what my son needed. Oh, and my hair consistently looked like a fluffed-out Q-tip dipped in fudge-swirl ice cream. (Who has time to get roots done when you're busy saving the world?)
I was a mess.
Then we had our daughter, and my supervisors supported a job-share arrangement. This new setup was sure to solve all my work-life balance problems and let me focus a little time on writing. (Oh yeah. That "hobby" that tugs at my heart daily.)
Naturally, I started a blog titled OperationHaveItAll.com. (Facepalm)
I would chronicle the no-doubt-hilarious efforts to raise two munchkins Monday through Wednesday at noon. Then, from noon Wednesday until Friday, I would succeed stupendously in corporate America.
Um, yeah. I was a mess.
Years later, after leaving corporate America to raise all three children (yep, now three) and develop a writing career, I finally learned the truth, broken into four realizations:
- Every woman is on a mission to create and have her own "all."
- Every woman's "all" is different. No exceptions. For reals.
- Because 1 and 2 are certainties, we must stop chiding and judging each other because we think we know what someone else's "all" should be or used to be. Such advice is irrelevant and sets all women back. We may not be in a circus, but life can be a game. If you advise another woman about what her "all" should be, do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to jail, sister.
- Each woman should identify and own her "all."
So, how do we fix this swirl of self-doubt and torrent of judgment? How do we identify and own our "all"?
First, we need to stop tossing around that "work-life balance" phrase, which consistently means absolutely nothing. On what planet can anyone equally devote time to both family and career? We need to stop trying to balance; we are women, not circus acts. (No comments about clowns and my attempts at makeup these days, please.)
Repeat after me: Balance is what I make of it. I will own my own balance. I will create my own "all."
Truly, having it all is what you decide it should be. You. Not a partner or a colleague or a best friend who just ran another 5K after crystallizing sugar for tonight's five-star birthday party for her 1-year-old.
Own your "all." Then, having your all becomes possible.
Now about that scale. Who has a sledgehammer?