Don't you just love watching the rich and famous talk about "work - life balance" on TV? Or listening to your single friends with no kids talk about "balancing" their work and leisure? Or reading stories about the families who opened their own business to "be in charge" of their own time?
While these stories may provide us with the "can do" spirit - if they can do it so can we - it also sometimes sets the unrealistic goal that everybody can have everything they want in life:
- Only doing the jobs they want to do
- Having more money than they need
- Still being able to do whatever they want to do with their time - leisure activities, raising children, keeping fit.
Then we chase this impossible goal - trying to find a better job and more money; finding that there is never more time, and feeling unbalanced and irritated that everyone else can find this - so why can't we????
Everything's a Trade-Off
First of all, we need to remember that everything in life is a trade-off.
The rich and famous sacrifice privacy, normalcy, and live under various threats that fame and fortune carry. "Having it all" is seldom all it seems - although we always think we could do it better, not make mistakes, etc., the history of lottery winners who end up worse off than if they had never won proves that there are huge trade-offs to possessing the large sums of cash we thought would fix everything.
So, Prioritize Your Trades
Secondly, as everything is a trade off, then we need to prioritize our trades.
Some of us still want an awesome relationship with our mate and to have and raise smart, balanced, capable children. Our single friends may cry about their struggles with balance, but add in a spouse and kids and suddenly that single struggle seems easy.
Choosing to trade some "balance" to instead invest more of our time in priceless relationships and in growing great kids (or trying to) may mean less "me" time - although it is still always important to take care of our own needs - but the trade-off in creating a fulfilling family unit is the ultimate priority for many of us.
Find Your Unique Balance
Thirdly, as we need to prioritize our trades, we can choose how to find our own balance of wants and needs, and we can and should feel good about the life we live.
The folks who start their own businesses may find more flexibility to meet family responsibilities, but owning a business often takes far more time than a "regular" job, and they may trade things such as corporate employment stability, company sponsored health and retirement plans, and the ability of a larger employer to absorb disasters or turns in the economy.
Some of us may choose a lower paying job with a more stable employer - to provide more consistent income for our families. Some of us may choose a high risk occupation on a temporary basis - as it suits our short term needs - and make plans while saving for the next rainy day. Some may choose an occupation they don't love, but that allows them the flexibility to meet their children's activity schedules.
Whatever the choices may be, by having confidence that these are the best fit for us, in our current and projected future situations, we are all doing the best we can to choose wisely.
You Can Build Satisfaction
We trade our time for energy, we trade our time and energy for money, we spend money on necessities, we spend our necessities trying to find time for relationships and leisure. Will it all balance out perfectly for every person on every day in exactly the same way? Not likely! But understanding that all of our choices are trading off something for something else, and then taking control of those choices to match our priorities - that is the balance that we can attain. Satisfaction comes from creating a life wherein we choose the best trades we can to make our own lives fit our own needs. We strive for our own "perfection" and not anyone else's.
This is not to say we should not seek improvement in our lives or jobs or circumstances, rather it is to say when we choose well, we have chosen our best balance - and we can feel assured that our own "balance" is good.
- About the author E W:
- From Victim Advocacy with survivors of abuse and violence, case management with senior citizens and their families, counseling with at-risk youth and their families, to therapy with adults fighting addiction - bereavement, depression, relationship issues, parenting issues, divorce, blended families, disability, career changes, life changes, my professional experience has encountered it all (so to speak). Fitness, health, coping with chronic illness, aging parents, raising children, job loss, job stress,.... and the list goes on!
Page last updated Oct 25, 2013