The Myth of Work/Life Balance

How many conversations do you think are taking place this very minute with women struggling to achieve “work and life balance?” 

Plenty!  In my work with women I constantly see the stress and guilt they feel because they think they haven’t achieved this idealized “norm” of the perfect balance.

Woman reflecting on roadWell, news flash…there’s no perfect solution.  But here’s one new idea.

Balance?  Forget about it.

Personally, I think it’s a myth. 

Just think about how much energy it takes to balance.  Picture a Cirque du Soleil acrobat walking on a tightrope. 

Notice how tentative she is.  See how constrained she has to be.

Even with years of practice, she has to take tiny, careful tiny steps to keep that perfect balance.  She has to make sure she makes only slow, small movements.

One wrong move and she falls. 

Let’s face it, balance can be constricting. 

I’ve been to those workshops where the self-help leader gives each person a perfectly proportioned pie chart that is supposed to represent our lives.  Each slice of the pie is labeled…Work, Family, Exercise, Community, Spirituality, and so on.

We’re asked to be honest with ourselves about how much time or energy we actually devote to these separate areas.

I always leave feeling like a failure.

Here’s the problem.  In that workshop I may be sitting in between one woman who has three young children at home and another woman who runs a multi-million dollar company. 

Our lives look very different.

Life has seasons.  If your business is in start-up mode, it’s going to consume an enormous amount of your time, creativity and energy.  If you are caring for an aging parent your heart will be shifted toward their needs.  If you have active, adolescent children –too young to drive themselves to their various activities — you’ll be devoting plenty of time and energy to them.

The seasons of human life aren’t as predictable as nature.  Your seasons may be short or long. The seasons will be different for each woman.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for balance.

She here’s my suggestion…think about the times in your life when you felt completely off balance.

Like falling in love.  The birth of your child.  Buying a new home.  Weren’t those were some of the most joyful times in your life?

So instead of working and striving for this perfect, imaginary balance, go where your energy leads you.  Aim for passion instead.  

Give yourself permission to be perfectly imbalanced and enjoy what brings you energy.  Wave your arms and make bold movements! 

Try this for one week:  do only what you love and love everything you do.  Put the joy and passion back in your life.

Notice what you love doing and put as much of your energy into that as you can.  Eliminate as much as humanly possible anything you don’t love.

“How is that possible?”  you ask. 

In the real world we all have certain things we do not love that we must do.  As soon as I finish writing (which I love) I have to meet a repairman to take care of a certain hole it the ceiling caused by an air conditioner leak (which I do not love).

But for times like this, I can bring what I do love into the equation.  I can connect with the repairman and discover something about him and his life.  I can look for a metaphor in the hole-in-the-ceiling-episode, which I can turn into an interesting article for you.

I can bring what I love to nearly every situation.

So please, quit striving for perfect balance.  Give yourself a little breathing room, a little more flexibility.  Then balancing won’t be so constricting.

Imagine that woman on the tightrope walking on a wider surface instead of that skinny rope.  What would she look like then?  She’d be able to romp and turn cartwheels! 

That’s what I’m talking about. 

Let go of the guilt and stress and live the life that has the ingredients YOU want, in the proportion YOU want.   Throw away the pie chart.

Wishing you a perfectly imbalanced day!

By Darcie Harris ©

2 thoughts on “The Myth of Work/Life Balance

    1. Darcie Harris Post author

      Hi Emily, I’m so glad you found this to be helpful. I loved your words…”brearh of fresh air.” I think we could all use a bit of that! Take care, d


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