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Walking the Balance Line

March 28, 2011

Work-life balance. We crave it. Desire it. Search for it. Long for it. Hoping that, at some point in our lives, we find it.

We devote countless hours and many a sleepless night agonizing over work-life balance but what does work-life balance even mean?

I am convinced that too many of us spend our entire working lives trying to figure out the answer to that question. I am also convinced that I spend way too much of my own time struggling to determine how that phrase applies to my own life.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my aspirations, dreams and desires have changed drastically since I was in grade school and college. I am no longer content to sit idly by. Instead, I have decided to become an active member of my generation. A generation that is more connected, driven, excitable, adventurous and likely to juggle multiple things at once due to a short(er) attention span. A generation that is made up of dreamers, wanters, doers and seers.

But (and there’s always a but) because of all that, because of everything my generation believes it is capable of; I am now convinced that we will struggle with work-life balance more so than any other generation that came before us.

We want and expect big things out of life. And, as a result, many of us are willing to sacrifice just about anything to meet those wants and needs. We get so caught up in the big stuff that we forget about the little things and, more often that not, it’s the little things that matter. The little things that help us find and achieve work life balance.

I have fallen into the habit of working on the weekends. Not the type of work that I do during the week but I read and research and read some more. I do that type of work to help keep myself up to speed, hoping that at some point, I’ll be ahead of the curve (silly me). I tell myself that it’s not work because I enjoy the reading, the learning, the researching. I’m passionate about the topic so that doesn’t make it work … right?

Wrong. Those thoughts, that way of thinking, that is exactly what prevents me, and my generation, from taking a step back to fit in and appreciate the little things. Having passion about something is amazing. Having the drive and desire to fuel that passion is even more amazing. It’s when the passion, desire and drive take over that things stop being amazing. At the end of the day my life and existence should be defined by more than just passion, desire and drive.

This past weekend I put all three aside to take time and appreciate little things. On Saturday, I played Laser Tag with my friends and on Sunday I enjoyed (a meal that I’ve neglected for far too long).

The small things matter. Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places you can radically transform the quality of your life and your relationships. – Nigel Marsh

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 9:34 pm

    Genevieve,

    Well said. It is so easy to justify working. Of course, I think sometimes we confuse being productive with being busy. We need to focus more on the former. The more productive we are, the less we need to work and the easier it is to have balance.

    Thanks for such an honest post.

    • March 28, 2011 9:38 pm

      Great point David. It is all about being productive and getting done what we need to get down without getting roped into working for the sake of working. I’m finding that our generation is just one that feels the need to work to prove something and that’s when we can lose sight. Thanks for the comment and glad you liked the post!

  2. March 28, 2011 10:03 pm

    Brilliant insights, Genevieve – thanks for sharing!

  3. March 28, 2011 10:23 pm

    GJ –

    Love this topic of the elusive pursuit known as balance.

    Seems everyone chases it, but few attain it…perfectly. I think that’s a good thing.

    While slowing down to appreciate the small things in life is definitely a prerequisite for your sanity, health, family and friendships, consider this perhaps as I have.

    It’s not balance we seek. It’s harmony. A compatible cadence.

    When things are perfectly balanced and level, nothing happens. Things stand still.

    In order for something to happen or change, there has to be imbalance. Inertia.

    Think about it. Everything we have ever accomplished in our life and career has happened because effort and concentration was placed in a specific area in an imbalanced way (school, work, expertise, relationships, etc). We all tend to sacrifice everything else in order to make one thing or another work.

    So, for me, taking time to relax and catch my breath is a must, but I never want to stand still and ripen. Stay green, stay in motion, and grow.

    – NR

    • March 29, 2011 7:56 am

      NR – great points (as always!). I do agree with you that at points we need some form of imbalance in order to reach for the stars and make things happen. But what I find is that we tend to consistently put work first. For some it even rules their lives. I’m right there with you though, I am someone who can’t sit still anymore either. Work-life balance will be defined differently for each person so for me it doesn’t mean perfect balance but it does mean fitting in and making time for the little things so that I don’t lose sight of what life truly is about.

      Thanks for weighing in!

  4. March 29, 2011 8:51 am

    Great Post! I have to remind myself to turn my work/passion off. The work will be there waiting for me. The kids are growing up and I need to focus on them (and family time) during this season in my life before they grow up and I wonder “Where all the time went?” “Where are all the memories I could have should have made?”

    • March 29, 2011 8:58 am

      Thanks Michelle! It’s hard for us to turn work off but it’s an essential must to keep our sanity 🙂 Playing laser tag this past weekend was a great reminder for me!

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