“There is no work-life balance. We have one life. What’s most important is that you be awake for it.”
― Janice Marturano
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them –work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
― Brian Dyson, former vice chairman and COO of Coca-Cola
The last few days I’ve been thinking how much of a challenge it is to find balance.
When I was working, there was a lot of talk about “work-life balance.” We were encouraged to try to find that balance…even though we were constantly asked to do the same amount of work (or sometimes even more) with fewer employees. We would be told “We can’t keep doing the same things we’ve always done”…but everything seemed too important to be dropped–and there were always new projects, new initiatives that needed to be part of our work. And while we were told we could say “No,” the culture didn’t make it easy to do so.
Then I retired, and I thought that since I now managed my schedule and my commitments, it would be easier to find balance.
In some ways it’s become harder, because I can’t beg off of things because of work-related commitments. Because I’m not working at a paid job, it’s easy for others to think that I have plenty of time to do “this” or “that”…not to mention the things that I’ve been putting off doing until I had more time!
I find myself with several roles and responsibilities:
- Grandmother (which includes mentoring a grandchild who is still trying to figure out what life holds)
- Minister, in a faith tradition in which most of our ministers are bi-vocational
- Musician (for myself, my congregation, and as a volunteer at my denominational headquarters)
- Website manager for several websites
- Administrator of several Facebook groups involved with outreach to those on the margins
- Individual who is dealing with multiple sclerosis (which I’ve been doing since 1969)
The list could go on…and I’m sure many of you understand as well.
So how do I balance all of this? It’s all important.
How many balls can I keep in the air at one time?
Sometimes one of them comes crashing down–and that’s usually when I’ve been doing too much and pushing myself too hard. Then my body rebels and tells me that if I won’t find a way to balance, my body will do it for me. Then I find myself forcibly having to say “no”…having to take time to rejuvenate and renew…and wondering why I don’t take the time to do this on my own terms.
“Balance” for me isn’t going to be the same things as “balance” for anyone else. When I am willing to understand this…when I quit comparing myself to another person, then it is easier to find my own way.
If I don’t take time for myself, then I won’t be able to deal with the other roles and responsibilities I have–and those balls will come crashing down.
So when I step back, it’s not because I’m shirking what I “should” be doing. It’s doing what I know I have to do in order to be balanced and able to help others.
If only we would be willing to recognize that for each other…and ourselves.