Dispelling the Work-Life Balance Myth In Three Steps
For me, I had to get to a crashing point before I realized that something had to change. Early in my career I reached the vice president level in my company and thought it would all be easier. In fact, it was horrible. I was missing deadlines, personal appointments and my kid's school activities, and my team at work was the lowest performing. Everything was a mess. I started realizing that I had to change something or I was going to go crazy.
Should I quit my job and be a full-time mom? I loved my work and I loved my family, but was there a better way to do both? I also noticed that many of my women co-workers were disappearing. They were throwing in the towel and either leaving the workforce altogether, or working part-time. I was determined to find a better way. I refused to believe that I had to choose between having a career and being a good mother and wife. I wanted both! I worked hard to have both!
My answer to shattering the balance myth: To integrate. I have three strategies to share with you on how you can integrate your life.
I used to keep two separate calendars, one for home and one for work; but, I was missing work deadlines, my kids' activities and other events. So I combined the calendars, which caused me to integrate my two lives. It's one life and one calendar!
After you put all of your personal and professional appointments on one calendar, your first reaction may well be shock; the overlap is daunting. But this will allow you to see the big picture and make conscious choices. When you have a conflict, chose one obligation and then do not re-negotiate with yourself. Be fully present at the choice you made. Don't think about what you should have done, or could have done. You made a choice, now give it all that you have.
We all have said to ourselves, "I just need to learn to sleep less. Then I will have enough time." There is plenty of evidence that proves that is not a good idea! There are many time management techniques; the best one for me was to set time limits on activities. The trick is to learn to walk away. For example, if I plan one hour to create a work presentation, I stop at that one hour and don't spend extra time trying to make it perfect or negotiate with myself. I do the best I can and then walk away. The same applies with cleaning the house -- learn to walk away.
We can choose to keep telling ourselves that we are not "balanced" or we can live by setting our own expectations. Expectations that meet our needs, desires and dreams. Don't let others set expectations for you, set your own. Our lives are not equations that need to be balanced. Focus instead on integration and being present.