I hear the term “work life balance” all the time these days. In academic and corporate wellness programs, at professional conferences of all kinds, on the mommy blogs, and even at the PTA. Yet none of these workshops or articles feels satisfying to me. The concept seems targeted to women pursuing success, as though we are the only ones responsible for righting balance in a world dominated by men and built on a work paradigm that stifles creativity, individuality, and femininity.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of organizations making efforts to do things differently and to “disrupt the status quo” of the employee experience, and I do think that’s great.
I am crying BULLSHIT on this as an individual goal. This is a societal goal.
It is not all up to ME to solve this problem of balance.
Our work and social paradigms need to change, too.
We need to rely on our colleagues and professional networks, our domestic partners and extended family, to contribute. Balance between livelihood and family is not achieved by one individual alone.
What IS my job is to know CLEARLY what I BELIEVE in,
To live my life in ALIGNMENT with my beliefs,
To set intention and live according to my OWN priorities,
And to TELL others what I need, when I need it.
For me, this has been the key to understanding BALANCE and living TOWARD it in my own life.
The balance is in my EXPERIENCE, it isn’t something I have to DO. And in my experience, I apply my own priorities, moment to moment, to guide my decisions. If I notice that I am weighing a decision based on what others expect of me, I must dig deep and respond to my own PRIORITY.
Of course, I want to take ACTION with integrity and respect. But the decision itself, from moment to moment, must come from my core VALUE, and not from the value of the system.
This can be really hard to do.
It can be hard to take action from within your OWN values and priorities, especially if you (a) aren’t clear on what they are, and (b) give your power away to the values of the SYSTEM within which you work.
For me, the first priority in life is to raise my son to be a strong, sensitive, resilient, and successful man. To do that, I need to be FULLY PRESENT when I am with him, and also to be PERSONALLY GROWING every day – which I do through my work.
In any given moment of CHOICE, I will seek to take the action that is most ALIGNED with this truth. Being a fully present mother does not diminish my dedication to my work; in fact, it enhances it. And being a kick-ass business woman does not diminish my ability to be a good mother; in fact, it enhances it. Realizing this has given me the GUTS to define SUCCESS for myself.
I think this is balance.
And I think balance is a state that allows for success.
What do YOU think?
What are the top priorities in your life that define your BALANCE?
What does SUCCESS mean for you?
How do you feel when your actions are not ALIGNED with your values?