A Compromising Position
(Whether at work or at home, we feel we are compromising something.)
All this talk about “doing it all” and finding “work life balance” is enough to make a grown woman cry, or at the very least, reach for a nice dry martini.
Are we afraid we are missing something or that someone is missing us? Are we concerned that we won’t be present at an important moment in the life of our pet project at work? Or are we afraid we will miss an important milestone in our child’s development?
Maybe we just don’t like missing out on any of the good stuff that is happening all the time; the fun of being at work doing what we do best or being at home with the children we enjoy and adore?
It’s a nice problem to have, really. We are engaged in our work and get a great deal of satisfaction from what we produce, initiate, sell, solve and optimize. And, we have a beautiful family that brings us joy, love, challenges, and the deepest human experience we have ever known.
Both are necessary. We wouldn’t want to have a life without our family and our work helps to make our family possible. Not to mention, we have worked hard to get where we are and we are good at what we do.
Which brings us back to the initial question; what does it really mean to “do it all,” and is it possible to find “work/life balance?”
Time for that dry martini?
Maybe there’s a different way to look at this? Let’s start with the “doing it all” piece.
What is “all” for you? It will be different for any woman so it is important that you identify what it means to you to do it “all.” Your version of “all” may include handling all the housework, cooking all the meals, managing the children’s schedules and pulling down a 6-figure salary.
Or it could mean getting take out 4 nights per week, making sure there is at least one date night per month, letting the dust pile up in between visits from the housekeeper, sharing the scheduling with a spouse and pulling down a 5-figure salary.
The differences are reliant upon the decisions you have made, the perspective you have, the expectations you have of yourself, the messages you received about motherhood as a child and what your peer group is doing. But there is always the opportunity to change things as we go – even if it feels like we are stuck.
And how about that “work/life balance?” What if we called it “work/life integration” instead?
That would give us a chance for things to overlap and even collide at times. If integration was the goal, we wouldn’t expect ourselves to have our focus in one location – our focus would be where it needs to be.
And maybe (just maybe!) we could let go of some of the “shoulds,” and add in choices we make moment to moment.
There is no one answer – there is only your answer for you.
Jamee’s Coach Me Quick Tips for Finding Your Answer:
1. When you think of “doing it all” does it make you feel good or overwhelmed?
If it pumps you up and makes you feel like you are living the life of your dreams – then go for it! You have obviously found the sweet spot where your expectation of “all” is meeting the reality in your life. GREAT JOB!
If the thought of “doing it all,” makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and call your mother, we have some work to do. Your idea of “all” may just be too much for any human being to accomplish. Take a look at what you can do well.
See if you can make small modifications to your expectations of yourself so that when you do what you accomplish (and we both know that’s a whole heck of a lot!) you can feel good about it.
2. If you consider moving from work/life balance to work/life integration, what changes? Does it give you any more freedom to move seamlessly between the different parts of your life?
Try thinking of your life in 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 hour chunks.
Choose what each chunk will be about as you move through your day. There’s a great deal of power in bringing this kind of awareness to how you plan your day. (You might even set a timer on your phone for each chunk.)
– You wake up at 6 and decide the next 2 hours is about home and family as you get the kids to school, and start your day.
– Maybe 8 to 2 is work focus?
– 2 to 4 is a bit of everything because you are checking in with the kids after school or you have to meet the plumber at home.
– 4 to 6 is more work.
– 6 to 9 is family time.
– 9 to 10 is when you wrap up a few work details and plan your next day.
Each day is different – and you get to choose how you integrate.
Life is full of compromises – just be sure you are choosing what and when you do compromise. And, that those compromises put you in a position to truly enjoy your wonderful life.
What do you think? Will work/life integration make it into your vocabulary?