Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen in, this is the sassy moments podcast. Moment # 16 – Life Balance
Life balance. It’s a tricky business right. I wonder if it’s a 21st century luxury? Or curse. Hmm. We have so much more choice now than our grandmother. And that is a very good thing. Women are incredible – we are leaders with great compassion.
However, we are in the messy middle of this transformation from doting grandmother baking cookies to entrepreneurial CEO. We expect ourselves to do it all – have the babies, raise the children, support our partner and their dreams, all while building a career of our own. While the balance in career life is leveling out, the brunt of family life remains on women, who historically have been the caregivers. This bears out in medicine. In 2019, 50% of medical students were women as compared to 4% in 1914. And though 50% of medical graduates are women, only 36% of practicing physicians are women. This work force attrition is largely attributed to the family-work conflict facing women physicians, according to a 2020 American Association of Medical Colleges survey. I somehow doubt this work-family attrition is unique to medicine. So many women are caught in this “do everything trap.” So luxury or plague?
What if work – life balance in life is just not a thing? Balance in life is not a thing. Stop striving for it. Accept it. Actually when you think about it, a truly balanced life would be boring and mundane, mediocre at best.
A vibrant life is full of imbalance.
Imagine if everything in life were to receive equal attention. If every relationship was treated the same – partner, child, colleague, friend, or neighbour, you would never develop deep and meaningful relationships. What if there was no range of emotions? NO anger? NO frustration – seems good right? But there would also be no success overcoming challenges, no sense of pride – it’s all just fine. What if all the activities in your day were kept in a neat tidy balance? Is dusting as important as reading to your child before bed? Of course not. I can go months without dusting, but if I get behind on the dishes by a day or two the kitchen is a disaster zone. I can pass on the laundry for a week, but daily dog walks are a must.
But sometimes tasks are not so easily ranked. Reading to your child versus preparing for a work related presentation versus a solid night’s sleep. All are important right? True. Usually it’s the sleep that is factored out. And that might be the best decision depending on the season of your life.
To paraphrase Ecclesiastes – to every thing there is a season… a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to plant, a time to harvest, a time to mourn, a time to heal.
Well, ladies, if you are listening to this, it’s likely your season of life has changed or is about to change. Chances are your kids are grown, figuring out their own road to success. Chances are your career and partner’s career are established, maybe even winding down. You could be considering a career shift or contemplating what you are going to retire to. The latter – what to retire to – is worth considering extensively. Gone are the days when retirement is the final chapter. We are living longer – much longer, and the quality of that time is highly dependent on our mindset.
Daniel Levitin author of the book Successful Aging identifies retiring as a risk factor for a premature death. In fact, Don’t retire is #1 on his top 10 activities to rejuvenate your brain. Others on his list include regular moderate exercise, connection with others, experiential learning and traveling. Not a bad list huh?
Enrich your life, let yourself be out of balance. But choose your imbalances wisely. Choose them with intention and let the imbalance tip in your favour. Tip the imbalance toward your interests and desires and your priorities.
Remember your undivided attention is the most valuable gift you can give to anyone. Give it to yourself – I’ve no doubt you’ve earned it.
Willingly take a three week trip to Italy with your best friend, knowing you will have to manage piles of paperwork when you return. Enjoy the trip. Buy yourself that Italian Black leather Jacket you fell in love with while traveling. Sign up for that pottery course. Give yourself a weekend ‘self reflection retreat.’
Forget about life-work balance, it’s just not a thing. Imbalance makes our lives rich and fulfilling. Embrace it.
Chat again soon.
Live Life, Love Life, Always…