Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life is NOT a Teeter-Totter

Given the influx of new readers (thanks again all!), I thought it might be helpful to repost a quick review of my life balance perspective.  

A lot of people make an immediate mental leap from "life balance" to "work/life balance."   In fact, there is an entire industry focused on work/life balance worth billions of dollars.   

Still, calling it "work/life" balance somehow says that work and life are on the same playing field, vying for position.  It implies what I call teeter-totter (aka "seesaw") energy.  It assumes that when one side goes up, the other goes down and vice versa.  There is a perpetual give and take... with parallel neutrality being the ideal scenario.

Personally I think this is neither realistic nor desirable.

First of all, I'm not sure I want my life to be "neutral."  I want it to be exciting and ambitious.  I want it to include hard work and I'm sure every boss I've ever had is happy I feel this way.

Furthermore, "work/life" balance is simply a misnomer.  Yes, work is a part of life.  But so is family, education, community and taking care of yourself so you can handle it all.

Life is a juggling act, not a teeter-totter ride.  Work is just one ball in the mix.

Here's the real secret:  Life balance is not about keeping all those balls in the air in perfect rhythm at all times.  Of course we try.  It's important to have strategies around the "DO" in the BE -- DO -- HAVE model I've described before.  That's why resources like The Get-It-Done Guy are so very valuable.

Still, the world is an unpredictable place and let's face it, we're human. Sometimes those balls are going to drop through some misstep of our own or with the help of others.  We may even lose a ball for a while.  Sometimes it feels like we are juggling bowling balls. They may turn into a little evil monster heads and try to eat our face.  Like I said before, stuff happens.

The thing to remember is that true life balance is internal. 

What's most important is the balance within you -- your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual self.  When those things are in harmony, the objects of external life can explode into flaming stink bombs and you'll be just fine. 

More than that, a balanced internal foundation means you'll be strong enough to cope, problem solve, persist and overcome anything that comes your way.

Including evil monster heads.


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mytheory said...

very nice advice.
i look forward to read your other message.

anyway,how can we achieve that life-balance?

Always a mom said...

Hi Charlene,
I enjoyed reading your article about work/life balance. I would also like to thank you for your recent comment on my post about "Simplicity".
You are so right that we often need to fight the urges to give our children everything we did not have in our own childhoods.

Greg said...

Hi, I recently added you to my follow list, found you via Jules

Ali said...

Hi, nice blog. It's really interesting.

Peter @ Enviroman said...

Thanks for leaving a comment in my blog post Statcounter visitor statistics. I have responded to your comment.

Singh Amit said...

Very nice post..
really loved it..
"true life balance is internal"
Balance in life is to synchronize ur internal being to external things......... :)
do visit my blog...
I am following u...

Tough Cookie Mommy said...

Charlene, you must be a mind-reader. I was just discussing with my husband tonight that this attempt at balancing home, work, play, etc. always creates deficits in some areas. In other words, something always loses out. I have a constant inner conflict about trying to balance all the areas of my life. There never seems to be enough time or energy.

Charlene said...

Well, Tough Cookie... fortune telling DOES run in my family. hehe Of course there's prioritization. You should see my kitchen right now! The funny thing is that the "inner conflict" is the one area you actually have control over. My advice is start there and you'll have answers for the rest. Time is finite true, but energy is infinite. As someone who has struggled with chronic fatigue most of my life, I finally figured out that it has to start with taking care of myself first in order for me to be able to do everything for everyone else.

Thanks again for reading everyone and all the great comments! I'll be sure to check out your blogs too. :-)

Mary Ann Cicala said...

"The thing to remember is that true life balance is internal."

This is so true! I dropped in on a beginner meditation class last Tuesday at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center...probably the biggest take away from that experience (other than a few meditation tricks to practice in the future) is the value of being fully present in our day to day experiences.

What this says to me is that, when I'm working--focus on the task at hand and when I'm home or spending time with a loved one--focus on that person and how I feel in that situation. In other words, don't think about work when you are hanging out with the kids (if you can help it).

And maybe this causes stress--or you feel tension. That is good to note as "drop in" on whats going on with your body and be aware of where you are (physically and mentally...and maybe even spiritually).

Remember, also, to breathe!

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure you remember me, but we graduated Emerson together in 1990. I received a post about the workshop you are offering on October 8th. How I wish I could attend, but I have another commitment that evening. Best of luck! It seems like you are simply thriving...I'm delighted for you!

"As Always"

Kara Marziali
Theatre Arts Graduate & 100 Beacon St. Resident

Charlene said...

Thanks Kara and all the best to you!! :-)

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