Here in my hometown, I am pretty lucky to be surrounded by many amazing women that I truly admire. Some I actually call “Superwomen.” They are moms that I meet at daycare, others I see at work, or in my triathlon club. And finally, some are my very own good friends.
They all have important jobs, are mothers of small children, have time to run marathons, and do triathlons. Many of my friends have adopted kids and have that extra challenge. They are motivated and passionate women, devoted wives, and great mothers who find time to workout and see their friends.
Everything seems perfect.
But it’s not.
I realize now, that we all have something really important in common. It’s not work, parenting or exercise . It is something else that seems to keep us close. What is it?
We never seem able to find the right balance in our lives.
We always struggle because we suffer from doing too much of this or not enough of that. We work too much, we don’t have enough time with our kids and most of all, we never have enough time for ourselves or for our husbands. Wow, I was hoping I’d have it together now that I’m 38! Don’t they say that the older you get, the wiser you get?
So now I get it. This is a lifelong question. Depending on what’s going on in your life, you need to adjust that balance. (Hey, I am getting wiser at the minute!)
When my children where 0 to 2 years old, the idea of having a big job with crazy responsibilities and long hours was out of the question. But I loved HR and I didn’t want to stop. So I went through many possible scenarios before I found the “working” balance that I needed at the time. I worked from home as a consultant taking mostly headhunting mandates. Now, my children are 2 and 4 and I want more – so I have adjusted again. Since last November, I’ve been in a HR Director role in a smart company. I started 3 days a week and progressively turned full time.
So, you can find something that works but the balance can tip over any time with the life challenges we face every day. It’s an ongoing challenge and it’s in every part of our lives.
This summer, I was training like a mad woman in preparation for 2 triathlons I had planned to do and my life balanced tipped over. I did too much and got myself over worked out. It took me a whole month to get over it and that doesn’t make me proud. My husband and children where the ones to suffer the consequences – they had a mother and wife who was tired, cranky and impatient.
Well well, I guess that’s what life is all about – rocking the boat but trying desperately to not tip it over. I think that women around the world all have this challenge.
When do we need to see the big flashing lights in our bodies saying, “Can you please press the OFF button now and just stop this craziness? Relax and enjoy – it’s your life after all!”
My question to you today is – do we want too much of life?
Great column…thank you. I don’t think we want too much…we just seem to often want it all at once. At least I do and that’s my struggle/juggle with balance. I also think it’s great the more men are confronting this issue. Because then I think it will become more mainstream and it will be more top of mind for businesses and families.
My take on the whole thing is not balance but flexibility. Everything in your life needs a bit of flexibility, family, work, exercise, hobbies so that when one ramps up another can take a back seat for a bit. And if you have that then while you’ll always have to adjust the balance you won’t feel out of whack. (hopefully 🙂
I do believe that balance is a relative term. For some people balance means getting to work by 8 and leaving at 5. For others it includes leaving work for the valentine party at school and some days getting back to work after the kids go to bed. For some it means working a job that only requires 20 hours of dedicated time to the occupation.
Each person/household needs to define what balance means for them. If you can eliminate as much friction as possible on the expectations, there will be more smiles all the way around. This is the same for any demographic with any lifestyle, in my opinion.
Older? Yes. Wiser? Perhaps. Life in balance? Not a chance. Neurotic overachievers are just that, and they don’t really change as they get older. What changes is the mix of things on which you’re overachieving. There’ll never be enough hours in the day, but that’s okay. As my Uncle Paul says, there’s time enough to rest when you’re dead. In the meantime, push that envelope, take the occasional fall, go to bed for a day when you need it, play hard and work hard but do adjust for aging lest you fall off the edge. And always remember what really matters. Friends and family come first as long as they do their part NOT to become too needy. Career is important but not so important that it should get in the way of your top priority. Self needs time too, and not just for physical maintenance. Just a few minutes floating in the pool refreshes my spirit. Throw in some water aerobics, and I’m soaring. Now back to drafting a new client’s contract.