Work. Sleep. Family. Friends. Fitness.
Not gonna lie – I absolutely HATED this advice when it started bouncing around the interwebs a couple of years ago. Three? That’s it? If I’m a good mom, friend, and wife I have to give up on work, sleep and fitness? Obviously it pissed me off so much because deep down I knew her advice was true. On my Super Mom days, I do NOT get the words on the page. If I force myself to get a good night’s sleep, I’m not going to the gym in the morning. Oh my God, I really only get three!
But for the last year or so I’ve really been thinking about Work/Life balance and I’ve had some revelations. First of all, “Work/Life Balance” is an annoying phrase. Not only to we have to do all this shit, but we also have to worry that we are doing it correctly? When I go out with my Girl Gang, we should be discussing books or politics or our laminated celebrity freebie list, not how balanced we are.
Do this for me right now: stand up on one foot. Hold still. Can you do it? Your abs contract, your hips are rotating a little bit, you are pushing your chin out. Now switch feet. I bet your shoulders are shifting. If you are like me, your arms went full windmill until you steadied yourself. But after a few moments of wiggy panic, you got upright again.
To balance is a verb, not a noun.
It requires constant work and adjustment. Balance is not static.
Next lightbulb moment: as soon as you put both feet on the ground again, did you realize that you are, in fact, balancing all the time? We’re used to standing on two feet, so it doesn’t feel like work. But once upon a time, you were a chubby baby who pushed up on both feet, and teetered there for a second before landing on your cushy little butt. (Given enough Zinfandel, I’m still that baby.) It’s still balance. It’s still work. We just don’t notice anymore because we are used to it.
Of course, Ms. Zuckerberg never meant that your choices today are your choices tomorrow. Today I chose Super Mom, because my kids needed me for some important school and life decisions. Our house guests left this afternoon, and I squeezed the life out of every minute with them, so I also chose friends. But now I’m exhausted, and my next choice will be sleep. What suffered? Work and Fitness. But that’s just today. I’ve got time blocked out for both of those things tomorrow, and something else will have to take a back seat.
And that is the key to what “Pick Three” means. Balance is active, and it’s a long game. Overall, I’m happy with the time and effort I put in to all of facets of my life. But I never, ever get to everything on a given day. I’m windmilling my hands every single day. That’s balancing.
What do you think about balance? Are you good at it?
PS – Now I’ve written the word ‘balance’ so many times I don’t even know what it means anymore. Is it a word? Did I make it up?