Or……..”Everyone has plans, until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson.
I have spent a good part of my life thinking about and striving to balance work and my life. Last year I was asked to give a talk at a professional women’s conference about how I was able to do that. Much to the chagrin of those in the audience, I told them that I had not found the magic bullet point to tell them all how they could achieve balance.
The truth is that the notion of balance assumes you have almost total control over your life. Control is an illusion. Things happen all the time, and we need to deal with them. A perfect example is one that most women can identify with.
You have your whole day planned out. You are gong to take your two young children to school, go to work, finish just in time to pick the kids up, and you do your shopping, errands, etc. during your lunch hour. Then after you pick up the kids you can get dinner ready while they do their homework. Perfect right? That morning your older child starts throwing up, develops a fever, and he needs to stay home from school. You have no childcare so you have to call in to work, and stay home. You can’t leave the house, you can’t do your shopping, and you can’t run your errands. You have to scramble to get your other child to school.
That is a small example. There is no way to find balance in this situation. However, you can be flexible. In my opinion, juggling work and life is not about balance at all. It is about learning to go with the flow.
In the above example, you can look at a day home with your child as a blessing to spend alone time with him or her, get your laundry done, and get the house picked up while he or she takes a nap. Watch a video, read a book or phone a friend. There are many things that you can do instead of stressing about what you are unable to do because you were thrown a curve ball.
That is what I have realized in the last many years. Going with the flow and becoming more flexible is far more workable than striving for perfection in balance. It is never going to happen for me. I feel so much better having realized that. Is the world going to end if my house isn’t as clean as I like it? How horrible will it be if the laundry isn’t folded? Are these things that I will look back on and regret? No.
My advice; keep your to do list. But, if you cannot get to everything or you get sidetracked, appreciate it, and enjoy the detour. Life without balance can be a life well lived depending on your attitude.