This morning, a friend posted an article, “BNI Founder on the illusion of work-life balance (and what you should be striving for instead)” on Facebook. As a member of BNI, I know how insightful Ivan Misner can be, so I was immediately intrigued. Throw in talk of balancing work and life?? I’m definitely going to read!
I spend quite a lot of time around other mothers, many of whom are also entrepreneurs. I see and hear their struggles to “find balance”, much like I experience myself. In fact, I don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone, ever, who claims to have this mastered. Part of the reason it can be so difficult is that many of us are not just doing work we love, but work we are passionate about. That passion can make it appealing to keep pushing, keep writing, keep supporting.
In the article, Ivan makes a couple of suggestions, but the one I want to focus on is to practice letting go and holding on. Here’s what he says:
“Contrary to popular belief, I do not think it is possible to have it all. Unfortunately, life involves making choices. Practice understanding what things to say “no” to, and then let go of them. At the same time, think about the things that are truly important in your life and hold on to them with all your might.”
While this may not be a popular opinion, I have to agree. Life is about choices. Being a parent is about choices, as is being an entrepreneur. People have asked me how I do it all, and I am always quick to answer…”I don’t!!” The truth is, I make choices every day. Sometimes the choice is whether to letting go of my picture-perfect homeschooling ideals in favor of household happiness. In the past two years, opening WomanSpace, I have made many choices about who/what will get my time/energy. A prime example of this would be how much I see my friends outside of work. It’s not much, which is a choice I made. Ouch. It can be hard to admit that we make choices instead of being forced. However, it can also be freeing. Once we free ourselves from the idea that we don’t have a choice, we can instead take ownership of these choices and make the right ones for ourselves without guilt. Let’s do that again…take ownership of these choices and make the right ones for ourselves without guilt.
As women and mothers in a society that places little real value on mothering while also holding it to an impossible-to-attain standard (ie: be always available to your children, but not so available that they become dependent on you or love them unconditionally, but be sure to discipline them in a way that ensure they’ll turn out appropriate to whatever standard society gives you or else we’re going to blame you), it can seem like some choices are off-limits. They are not. You, dear woman reading this, are free to be who you need to be. If your job is outside of your family and it means you have less family time, yet your heart soars every time you think about your work…own it! If your job is raising your babies and it means you have less “work experience” to put on your resume, yet you can’t imagine doing/being anywhere else…own that too! This is your life and you get to choose how you live it, what you spend your energy on, and how that energy gets divided.
Make choices that feel right for you and your family. Let go of those that don’t work for you. Hold on to what does work, and what is important. Know that these may change as you grow through life.