To have equality or equivalence in weight, parts etc. A state of equilibrium.
I am sure you have heard the term “work-life balance.” Is there such a thing?
I have been thinking a lot about this lately and I think it is because my age and work status has given me permission to do so. At almost 71 I have the luxury of managing my time between work and rest or work and pleasurable activities. I am still learning to be better at creating balance, and I have a long way to go, but looking back I shudder at the lack of balance and ensuing stress I endured because I did not understand how to balance my life, or maybe I was just too busy to sit down and think about it. Or, maybe given the circumstances it wasn’t possible.
We certainly help to create our own imbalances by defining at any given moment what is important. As working adults, intent on moving forward, growing in our chosen careers and being successful, we often add the one wonderful thing that challenges our work-life balance to the max, we add a family to the mix.
No matter what the composition of the family looks like it adds a level of complexity so great that to achieve regular balance is daunting.
I remember having a conversation with a friend long ago when I was in single mother mode, trying to balance a new and exciting job and the lives of my two young children. My thought at the time was that our retirement years should be when our children are young and our work lives should begin when the children are closer to being able to care for themselves. During the years when my children were young I had fleeting moments of balance, mainly because I worked for employers that understood the importance of work-life balance and afforded me some flexibility in my schedule. Still, it was a struggle for me.
Watching all of my friends wade through the same issues was a bit of a comfort and it became “just the way it is.” Some handled it better than others and I often wondered if there was something they knew that I didn’t. They didn’t let on.
Back in the 1970’s women many times received flak for leaving the home and joining the workforce. Some people berated women for leaving their children with a sitter or in day care to selfishly create something of their own outside of the home. Subtle and sometimes “in your face” admonishments helped to create a large number of women who wanted to show themselves as Superwomen, able to tackle full time work, a household and a gaggle of kids in one fell swoop. If women complained about the lack of balance in their lives they would hear remarks like, your place is in the home or I told you it would be too difficult for you. Remember, not everyone had or has the luxury of hiring a nanny or housekeepers, or has a participating partner and they truly do it all on their own. Suffering in silence with a smile on our faces we waited for moments with other women to recount our experiences and talk about the elusive balance lacking in our lives. I don’t want you to think that I or any of the women I knew were not having good times. We had an abundance of grand times at home, at work and out in the world, but the balance factor was always lurking around the corner.
Even as I got older and my children were no longer at home I still had trouble creating optimal balance. I had moved up the ladder in my career and had a demanding job, one which many times took precedence over family time. I often equate that time to being on a fast moving train, stopping occasionally to get off but always knowing I had to hop back on soon. Balance was intermittent. I talked about this with colleagues and they had similar feelings. I was so envious of the ones that seemed to have it all. Did they?
Getting off the train was a good thing for me. It has offered me the opportunity to think about the need for balance in my life and challenge all of the things I do that may get in the way of creating balance. Being older and being able to dictate what kind of work I do and when I do it sure helps.
Aside from work and family obligations there are other factors that may eat into the balance quotient. One important one, that a therapist I know always brings up, is negativity. Whether it is negative people or situations you experience, you need to remove those encounters from your life. The negativity will drain you and throw off your balance completely. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people and removing as much negativity as possible creates immediate relief and will surely give a boost to your balance quotient.
I wouldn’t say I have achieved ultimate balance yet but I am acutely aware of what it means and what it feels like on days I seem to have it, so I will continue to strive for it. I know it is necessary for my physical and mental health.
What are your experiences with creating balance? Please share!
Peace and Love and Balance,