When Erin of Apartment 34 challenged me to write on what balance means to me, I thought I would get it done in a few days. Well, guess what, it ended up taking me a few weeks and even a few attempts to write this post. I never thought this topic would be so difficult to write. But this is exactly what this series is about, getting to the core of things. Welcome back.
When I google’d “work life balance”, there were so many articles offering tips on how to find balance. It’s no big news that (almost) all of us share the same struggles, and that we’re all trying to find the secret to balancing it all.
But what does balance really mean?
According to Wikipedia, it’s about prioritizing your personal ambitions – career, wealth – and lifestyle choices – family, marriage, friendship, health, spirituality, leisure, and… I’m adding sleep.
It sounds really simple and easy to do, but when you put “balance” in the context of real life, it’s just not that simple. It’s not like a balanced diet where you can measure what you should eat each day. It’s very subjective. What I think is a balanced life may not be very balanced to you. Plus, our priorities are always changing. We have kids, our parents fall sick, we get relocated… all the different life events constantly change our priorities, and we have to adapt and balance.
I think the hardest part about this topic is figuring out what balance really means to “me”.
Do I feel balanced? Do I have my priorities straight? Is “balance” even possible? Because more often than not, I am imbalanced.
Just like you, I want to be that woman who owns a successful career, be a nurturing mother, a caring daughter, a loving wife, a good sibling, a faithful friend, a happy and healthy individual. But the truth is, I cannot give equal attention to all of these areas. And there are times I certainly feel like I’m failing those around me, and myself.
So I’ve recently came to terms that it is ok not to balance all of these things at once. But focus on happiness and fulfillment in each of these areas.
Right now, my two main focuses are my kids and career. I won’t say my time split between these two are equal. I certainly am putting a lot of emphasis on my career at the moment. To an outsider (even to my mom), this is not balanced. Sure, I get the guilty mom feeling, and I also feel selfish. But would it really make me a better and happier mom if I spend more time with my kids? Would I feel more balanced? Or would I beat myself up for not accomplishing what I want in my career?
This is where I have to think what makes me most happy and balanced. And the funny thing is – I feel most happy and balanced when I thrive in my career. It gives me confidence and a sense of accomplishment. And because of that, I feel that I am a better and happier mom to my kids. To some people, this might sound absurd and selfish. But is balance really about finding equal time for things? Or is it about finding happiness and fulfillment so that we can be our best self?
Because of this post, I decided to schedule a meeting with myself every quarter to re-evaluate my priorities. Is there anything I’m doing that’s sapping my energy? What’s working really well for me? What’s not so well? Am I neglecting anyone or anything or even myself? What am I going to do about it? I think the most important part about finding balance is checking-in with yourself, and making sure you’re not neglecting one area for too long that you regret on the consequences.
So tell me, do we share the same definition on balance? How do you define it? Do you think balance exist? How do you find it?
Don’t forget to check out Erin’s take on finding balance; she’s got some interesting points. I also gathered a few good ladies who I admire to share their ways on finding balance. I’d love to hear yours!
Lisa Wong Jackson, 39, Owner/Designer of Good on Paper.
Now that I have two active young boys, I try to stay balanced by being efficient in my day-to-day activities, whether it’s getting the kids ready for school or working on freelance design projects. I am also big on sticking to routines. This includes getting a much-needed massage about once a month, which makes me a happier person and a less-stressed mother.
Christina Chan (my sister), 29, Co-Owner of O2 BodyFit & Personal Trainer.
I make sure to schedule something that I look forward to. It could be either every day, week or month. A weekend getaway, a concert, a new restaurant, a spa day, being out in nature. It refreshes me and keeps me inspired! Those are when the best ideas come to me.
Prioritize. Every morning I write down my ‘to-do’ list and number them by priority. What must I do? What can I delegate to others? I focus only on the important things and work down the list. Whatever doesn’t get done moves over to the next day. That way, I’m not stressing over the little things and feel more productive!
Margaret Elizabeth, 29, Owner & Designer of Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry.
I’m new at this (on being a mom to her 8 weeks old son!), but so far I’m finding that taking a few hours each week away from Tate and away from trying to catch up on work helps me to be a more present and energized mom. Even if it means just going for a walk with a girlfriend or running out to pick up fresh flowers- having a few minutes on my own goes a long way in making me feel balanced.
Kim Mitchell Stokes, 43, Art Director/Designer, Banana Republic Factory Store and blogger at J’adore Couture.
The biggest thing I do to find balance is to get “offline.” I’m on the computer for work and for the blog, and it’s important to disconnect and find inspiration in real life. For me, that means getting out of town for the day, or something as simple as reading magazines in the park.
The other thing I do is run. Running has always been not only great exercise for me (I’ve been running since high school), but it’s also a great recharger. I can get outside and think without distractions.
Thanks all for tuning in! xo Jeanne
Photo for The Kind Of Woman by Aubrie Pick. Styled by Erin Hiemstra & Jeanne Chan.