The “Balance” Myth
I hear it All. The. Time.
“How do you achieve the work/life balance?” or “How do you balance being a mom and running a business?”
Or the more veiled… “How do you do it all?” (read: “it’s not possible, so what’s getting missed?”)
And I used to struggle with this. And I mean REALLY struggle.
In fact, it was one of my biggest hurdles to overcome as I started my first business.
I really wanted to build a business, but part of me felt guilty for not just being the mom I’d always dreamed of being.
Because why would I choose to do something that took time away from my baby girl?
It was a simple technique that my trainer did with me in class that got rid of that inner tug-of-war… where I realized that it was the time spent on my business that allowed me to be the type of mom I desired to be. It didn’t have to feel like one or the other.
But then came the dreaded… how do I balance it all? How do I give equal attention to my baby and my business?
Because every time I tried to create that “balance,” I felt like a failure. Heck, even when I was “just a mom,” I felt like a failure balancing baby and housework.
And that where I was going wrong. I kept using words like “balance” and “equal.”
See, words create pictures, sounds, and feelings in our heads. It’s how our minds process the world. For example, if I say the word “popcorn”… that brings up pictures in your head.
Maybe you pictured a big bowl of movie popcorn, or maybe it was that “heat over the stove” kind… or maybe it was a brick of pink popcorn at the carnival when you were a kid…
Everyone has a picture that is unique to them come up.
So when someone would say the word “balance,” here’s what I saw…
I pictured a scale like this one, where anything weighted slightly more than the other meant “unbalanced.”
And I definitely did not want that.
But how do I measure it? (525,600 minutes… how do you measure… measure a year? – music sidebar… name that tune in the comments!)
Ok, I’m back, lol. But seriously… how do you measure “work” vs “life” anyway? Is it minute for minute? Is it “quality time” spent? And if there’s no way to measure it, then how in the heck do I balance it?
Enter a guest speaker at one of my first masterminds.
Paul Hoffman (of “Have you driven a Ford… lately?” fame) came in and said forget about balance. Balance is a myth. Focus on harmony.
Now THAT word meant something to me. THAT was a word I could do.
I grew up playing flute, singing musical theater, etc. I know what harmony, good harmony, sounds like and I can picture it. And I know what discord sounds like… when something is out of tune or someone hits a wrong note.
Because in any good piece of music, there are times the woodwinds are playing and the brass rest… there are times the brass plays and the woodwinds rest… times it’s just the bassoon or the timpani drums… and times it all comes together. And it’s never about having an equal number of notes on a page or number of bars being played.
Sometimes, the sopranos have all the lyrics (the melody), but the altos are singing “aaahhh” in harmony… and without them, it all falls flat.
It’s about the composition as a whole.
And, maybe even more importantly, music is about the space between the notes.
Once I let go of the desire to create balance and to instead focus on creating harmony, my life changed.
Because sometimes, my business needs to be the focus while I launch a new program or I’m attending or teaching an event. And sometimes, my girls get all my time as we work on homeschool projects or attend dance competition. Sometimes, it’s all about taking a break and having fun. And sometimes… all the focus is on finding the bottom of the laundry pile and shining the sink.
As long as life feels harmonized, then I’m winning. It’s no longer about measuring and finding equal balance in every single day, but does your life feel harmonized at the end of the week, the end of the month?
And if it doesn’t, how can you rewrite your song?