Balancing Act

Last week I was chatting with a colleague. We both work in the arts, though she is a generation younger than I am. She was explaining her devotion to her work/life balance, which includes a strict cap on the number of hours she works, and no email nights or weekends. A part of me wanted to laugh out loud. How was that even possible?

Another colleague and I were chatting about the same subject. This woman is a tad bit older than I. Her theory was that you can only handle two big things in your life. For her, her work is one of them.

As a frame of reference let me tell you that I am having a EAT/PRAY/LOVE aka mid life moment right now. Trying to figure out the work/life balance questions for myself. Also trying to reboot my writing life, get back to the gym, lose those unwanted pounds and leave some room for a social life of sorts. I know, madness.

Given all of this, and my past work/life issues, I am not accepting the two things rule. I just can’t. It would mean I only had room for one more thing (I have a job that definitely counts as one) and since I am a writer, that would mean the rest of it would be on another tier. Or that writing would move down, but that seems like an easy choice (given the current writer’s block I am experiencing) and one that would make  me very unhappy in the long run.

But keeping a cap on my work life? Why does that feel subversive to me? Obviously I need to do some work on that, if nothing else. Do I feel as though I am being a traitor to my career? Am I trying to prove something? To whom? Is this a greater challenge for women? Or for women of my generation (or older)? Does the younger generation (how I hate that phrase) have a different POV on these balance issues?

I think there are fewer answers to work/life balance then there are opportunities for conversation.  Hopefully my conscious considerations will yield some ideas. Or inspiration. If so, I’ll let you know.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Ruth Polleys says:

    I think there is something to the young one’s strategy, but you have to feel comfortable with it. Instead of no work on any night or weekend, try unplugging one day a week and dedicating part of the day to writing or enjoying the nieces or socializing (hard when part of you work IS socializing). It’s about balance, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. And look at who’s talking here…Miss Imbalance herself!

    My surgery journey has taught me that priorities have to shift, that’s there’s no fast/hard rule that says you can’t eat chocolate ever–but you can’t eat a whole bag of Kisses. You have to eat one. And if you can’t, you can’t. Get it out of the house. If you have to check email every hour, do it. Just don’t let the bag of Kisses–consumed or not–or the need to connect consume you. Or you will be consumed!! Ha! (That’s me spouting the advice I need!)

    What have you said to me again and again and again?–Be kind to yourself. And as I said to my doctor just this morning–this mid-life crisis thing can be kind of fun! Have fun looking for balance, and know that some days you will fall off the bike. But it’s about adjusting the time/the resistance/the duration, and knowing that the weather will affect. I think the late-onset athlete in you knows how this deal goes.

    End of rant. Whew!

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