Forget About Work-Life Balance
I hope everyone is doing well, and had a great week-end! We certainly did on our sides of the blogosphere, what with an amazing dinner at one of the best churrasquerias (Portuguese for Brazilian grill) I’ve ever been to on Cape Cod (I’ll tell you more about it in a special Foodie feature very soon), and some well-deserved family time for yours truly’s birthday (yup, I turned 25 again!)…And before you know it, it’s Monday, I’m actually on the other side of my usual blogosphere for business, away from the family for a few days and a bit sad and nostalgic, but you know the saying “gotta do what you gotta do”..right?
And after 5-something hours on the road and in the air yesterday, and waking up to a different time zone today, I really have to think back about the elusive meaning of this gigantic myth that we, as working people, and especially as working women/moms/gals, have upholded as the Holy Grail of our careers for so long…Yup, the Sacro-Saint, Holier than Holy Work-Life Balance! How many articles, seminars, passionate declarations have we not read, listened to, adamantly contributed in, all about this topic! “WE WANT WORK-LIFE BALANCE”, could just as well be the motto of the modern, working woman, right?
Well, it seems that this elusive concept, along with the passionate cry for freedom that it seems to imply, is dying a slow but certain death these days. Really, what with the advent of mobile devices that make you “reachable” and “trackable” 24/7, this idea that we should be literally “on call” around the clock, there is no longer such a thing as attaining this perfect work-balance that we all long for. Besides, whenever we talk about work-life balance, we immediately picture the working mom, all dressed in sharp suit and sky-high stilettos, holding her computer bag in one hand, and her babies in the other (if that is possible, talk about physical balance), and smiling like she really CAN do it all! Well, how about those childless women who do not exactly aspire to doing it all? How about our male counterparts, those unsung heroes who make it possible for us to do the do? How come so many important contributors to this conversation have been left out for so long? And how come, really, are we still believing in the magic of this elusive idea that somehow, some way, we don’t have to choose because we can just have it ALL…
Because the reality is, we do, we do have to make choices, tough choices at times, yet rewarding choices in many instances…And maybe that is why the conversation is slowly shifting from the dream of a work-life balance to the reality of energy management and actual flexibility. Because really, the sad truth is that many of us who claim to have this work-life balance are also stuck in dead-end jobs that leave them depleted and absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. I’ve been there, not too long ago actually, and while deciding to leave was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, it may well have been the best, at least time will tell…
Still, those who make some of the toughest choices to be able to live more engaging lives, at home, at work, and within their own selves, may indeed possess a lil’ something, something that is more precious than balance, and way more rewarding than this elusive sense of perfect equilibrium we seek…Maybe what they have is called fulfillment, this sense that all the pieces in their lives may not be perfectly balanced, but that at the very least, they all fit just as they should…
Is it time to change the conversation from work-life balance to fulfillment?