The Myth of Balance

Work / Life balance. It’s a popular topic these days, with some people saying it’s impossible, while others saying it’s a matter of priorities. While they have a point, in my experience they’re missing the big picture. Everyone has balance. Because everything has weight. So while it may seem like your life is in complete disarray, it is balanced in the way you decided it should be. Don’t like it? Then change it.

Does you life feel like this? At times, mine does. Between working a full time elephant-balancejob, going to school part-time at night, doing freelance computer work, having a 20 month old son, and being married, there are times where I feel that there is way more on my shoulders than the ground underneath can hold. Yet the ground is still holding strong. So why the worry? For me, it means that I’ve given the wrong amount of weight to the wrong things in my life. When that happens, I have to reallocate. Things that were important one day aren’t the next. They can change weekly, daily, or even hourly.

For example: a few weeks ago I got a call from daycare that my son was sick. I had a meeting in an hour, and a lot of work to get done that afternoon. What did I do? I went and got my son. Now, it’s easier to do that when it comes to you kids. But I’ve done the same thing with work issues, family, and friends. To have a balance you’re comfortable with, you have to be OK with changing the weight of everything around you. I’ve got a simple order of things:

  1. My sonseesaw2
  2. My wife
  3. Immediate family / Close friends
  4. Work / Career
  5. Me
  6. School
  7. Freelancing
  8. Networking

Keep in mind one important thing: my priorities are NOT created equal. It isn’t about giving everything to everyone. Doing that just makes it worse. While I certainly know my career is important, I still leave the office at 5pm sharp to get my son from daycare. He’s simply more important. And if my brother calls me needing immediate help, then I won’t be making it to class that night. And note that I included myself on that list, albeit not at the top. I am not the most important thing in my life, as much as I’d like to be sometimes.

It’s just that simple. But only if you’re willing to make sacrifices. With the items of lower importance, people could perceive me any number of ways. But it is more important that I can live with my life than they can.

{ 3 comments }

Joey March 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Well put, sir. You balance things well and all without self-medicating. For that I applaud you. Now please excuse me while I go shuffle my priorities in this bottle and on this hooker.

Rebecca April 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm

I love how having kids puts things so much into perspective. I don’t have the type of priority list. Of course, if my family or friends needed something, I’m there, but then things get muddy. I think I tend to put myself a lot higher on the list – but I think women also need to to ensure sanity :)

Great post. All of your posts are great lately actually!

Matt Cheuvront April 6, 2009 at 11:04 am

Very well thought out post. It comes down to prioritizing. I see it as not so much of a balance as an integration of the two (depending on what you do) – but you ALWAYS have to make time for your priorities – you can’t toss aside your friends and family (all the time) for the sake of the J-O-B.

Read your comment on Jun’s blog – I encourage you to read my thoughts/follow up on my blog. Would love to have your input on the subject: http://www.lifewithoutpants.com/philosophy/work-vs-life-what-is-your-white-whale/