Balance:Challenge of the Century

You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life- Heather Schucks,The Working Mom Manifesto

My cousin Ardie accepts the reality of being a single mom,raising two sons,five-year-old Shawn and two-year-old frank. As you can see,her hands are full. Between the kid’s needs and the never-ending running around,she does an incredible job and seems to be coping well. When asked how she created balance,and kept herself sane,she said:

“For me it was all about making mental adjustments. I gave up my high standards around the home. If half of the house is clean at any one time,that’s good enough. I also decided to accept the fact that i would have less income and less personal time during this stage of my life. I deliberately took the focus off any lack,and concentrate on what i do have. My two boys are healthy and am grateful for that and the time we spend together. Friends and neighbours provide invaluable support. Just being able to have a chat on the phone or enroll another pair of hands to help is satisfying.”

Many people think it is impossible to live a balanced lifestyle without being wealthy or enjoying a leisurely retirement. I quite agree-acquiring a satisfactory balance between work and family with time for personal and spiritual growth,fun,friends,relaxation,household chores,community activites and vacation,is unrealistic and virtually unattainable for most women today.

Managing a busy life is daunting proposition,despite the latest technologies at our fingertips. The two most common statements i hear are,”I always seem to be rushing because there’s never enough time, and i just wish my life was simpler and more meaningful.”

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them -work,family,health, friends,and spirit and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it,it will bounce back but the other four balls-family,health,friends,and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of them,they will be irrevocably scuffed,marked,nicked,damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life-Brian Dyson,Former VC & COO of Coca Cola

The philosophy of balance still being touted by some self- help experts doesn’t fit anymore. “We can have it all and do it all,” they say. But that’s not even close to being within the grasp of most women. The world balance implies equality. It suggests spending equal amounts of time and energy in all areas of our lives. But for most of us,that’s impossible. For working mothers in particular,family life collides with job requirements. Hassled hustled,and hurried,too many people are experiencing too much stress and feeling out of control. We have become prisoners of time,desperately seeking the illusion of a wonderful,balanced way of life.

There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to defining balance.

Balance depends on our personalities, and our particular set of circumstances. As women,we go through many stages,including being single,getting maried,and raising family. Some of us experience divorce or become widowed,and eventually we all must deal with retirement. Balance differs with each stage.

Right now,balance for you is probably quite different than it is for me. You may be a single parent raising two young children and working a full-time job. Prioritizing your time,having a strong support network,outsourcing and delegating effectively would all be high on your check list. Spending special time with your children and paying attention to personal care would also be important inorder for you to enjoy a good balance in your life.

I’m at the empty nest stage now. Balance for me is working on flexibility mode and feeling fulfilled by it. Most of my jobs are online anyway. Self-care,spiritual development,staying healthy and having time for me primary relationship with my loved ones.

Finding balance involves two main issues-time and stress. Time and stress are inter-related. With more time,you feel less stress. The big question is: how do you find more time and reduce your stress? The bad news is that there isn’t any more time. You only get 1,440 minutes everyday. What makes the difference is how you use that time. Use it skillfully,and you can enjoy better balance. Waste it and you will feel like you are always on a treadmill, racing to catch up.

Strategies that are succesful in the business world need to be adopted on the home front with the same tenacity,discipline and focus. Prioritizing and scheduling are paramount. Soo,too,is making sure that what you do is in harmony with your values. Delegating effectively and outsourcing will free more time. Downsizing and simplifying your life will free up more energy.

Making these adjustments requires a different way of thinking. It takes innovative planning and focus. Creating the type of balance that’s best for you may require considerable effort. The first step is to clearly define what balance means to you. Then make a list of the rewards you will enjoy for attaining it.