I started out writing my version of that term we hear all the time, “work-life balance” and came across this article titled, “Why We All Need to Give Up on Work-Life Balance Once and for All":
It pretty much sums up a lot of what I wanted to say. That there is no balance and that we shouldn’t be disappointed when we realize that this nirvana of balance is probably not attainable. Instead of trying to having “it all” the author says we should strive to have “our all.” Now that I can do!
When I participate in presentations and roundtable discussions on this topic, I emphasize that whatever we do is our life and it requires choices. Every minute, whether you are choosing to read this blog post and the article shared on Facebook that is associated with it or choosing to catch up on sports scores or get back to your actual work—you choose what constitutes your life. And our work is part of our life. This article is written from the entrepreneur perspective but as veterinarians, our work can be very similar. We often put our heart and souls into it whether we are a practice owner or not. Some days can suck every ounce of energy right out of us. At the same time, many of us love what we do. And we went into this profession recognizing we wanted meaning from our work precisely because we knew it would be a huge part of our life.
The trick is owning the choices we make and forgiving ourselves when we feel we have made the wrong choices. This requires us to lift our heads and scan the crowd, look at those around us, especially the ones we care about the most. Checking in with them and acknowledging the choices we are making and the impacts they are having. There will be times when we have to say no to an opportunity because there is not enough room in our waking time to do it. And sometimes we will stretch ourselves to not say no to an opportunity. I love the quote from Alain de Botton, “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” So what is worth fighting for? your career? your partner or spouse? your children? your pets? your causes or hobbies? your health (physical and mental)? your family and friends? your business? The answer is yes, yes to all of them. But on your terms and in your way not according to some image of a perfect balance.
When people see someone who they feel has achieved work-life balance what they are really seeing is someone who has found a blend. Someone who has gotten comfortable with the choices they are making that constitute their life and found the ability to let go of most of the guilt that comes when you feel like you have chosen one thing over another. Or they’ve decided to take the Scarlett O’Hara route, “I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.” Many days that works for me! And when I really feel frazzled, I remind myself of the last line from Gone With The Wind: “After all... tomorrow is another day.”