With the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and the passage of the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote, women naturally took the next step: entering the workforce. We quickly embraced a can do it all to have it all attitude, sold on the ideology that it is possible to balance work and life. Many years later we would discover that balancing a family, career, hobbies, and health is stuff that fairytales are made of. The so-called work life balance is a myth.
In the new book, Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch!, author and entrepreneur Jenn Aubert explains, “We have put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves to have the ideal career, have a family, participate in various social and community activities, keep physically and spiritually fit, and somehow do it all with grace and ease. We seek out the elusive balance everyone keeps talking about only to discover that it’s impossible to find, let alone maintain.”
The picture-perfect lives portrayed on TV and splashed across the pages of magazines are quite often superficial. The people in the images etched into our brains seem to have it all, balancing everything like skilled gymnasts. In reality, they too are seeking the elusive balance, struggling like the rest of us. Unless they have a suite of assistance at their disposal, they have likely not mastered or found that ideal work-life balance. Don’t let them fool you!
Aubert encourages us to stop chasing this mythical creature, give ourselves a break, and find other ways to make it all work. She goes on to suggest that when it comes to balance or integrating different aspects of our lives, it’s critical to take a close look at our priorities and determine what is most important, what’s working well, and where improvements need to be made.
Of the 100 women she interviewed for Women Entrepreneur Revolution, Mia Bauer’s story stands out. Founder of Crumbs Bake Shop, she appears to have it all—career success, a thriving family, and a great work life balance. She admits that in order to achieve her goals and still maintain a healthy family life, she has had to sacrifice in other areas. She rarely slept while building her business, often working through the night. She shared that sacrificing sleep was well worth it to be able to grow a multi-million dollar brand while raising two small kids. She attributes her energy (despite sleep) to always wanting to achieve great things.
Sacrifices will need to be made here and there in order to focus on the things that are most important to you. Evaluate what you’d like to focus on and what is least important in order to feel the greatest sense of accomplishment. Can you drop a few days from your workout schedule? Is it possible to get more done and have more time for your family if you enroll your children in daycare two days a week?
There will be times when certain aspects of your life require more time and attention. For example, if your child is going through a particularly rough patch with homework, you may need to spend more time at night and on the weekends helping them with their studies. Or you might find that a particular project is so massive and critical that it requires you to work late for several weeks, foregoing social gatherings you had hoped to attend.
In the end, you need to figure out what works best for you. Carefully assess your life and determine your utmost priorities. What do you value most? What energizes you? Where can you make some sacrifices? The answers will help you better integrate the difference aspects of your life. Don’t shoot for a perfect balance. Strive for a good sense of accomplishment.
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