Enough about “balance”

I was at a conference yesterday for women who are small business owners.  It was called Spark & Hustle, and it was fantastic.  One of my favorite things was that not a single moment was wasted having that annoying conversation about “work/life balance.” It was if each speaker & attendee made a silent agreement, acknowledging, “There is no such thing…so let’s not talk about it.”

I’ve been to DOZENS of professional conferences.  In different career roles, I’ve attended gatherings for attorneys, sales reps, writers/authors, pastors, entrepreneurs… I LOVE the shared wisdom & encouragement.  When it’s a women’s gathering, there is typically significant focus on questions about balancing career and family/motherhood. And the frustrating part is rarely does anyone have anything unique or helpful to offer, everyone just agrees (at length, with much shaking of heads and anecdotal stories) that it’s a challenge…and POOF! two hours is gone.

Here’s the thing about balance–it’s an illusion.  I used to be a gymnast.  (I was decidedly mediocre at it, but I was on the team) Here’s what I learned: The secret to staying on the beam is to KEEP MOVING.  You can’t stop (I can’t tell you how many times during practice I’d pause to consider some new move or technique, and fall off the beam while just standing there...) and flailing only calls attention to the precariousness of your situation.  Check out this video of World Champion Nastia Liukin…notice how she keeps moving (and yes, feel free to imagine that my gymnastics looked just like this!):

Now, consider the picture at the top of the post: That woman might be “balanced,” but she’s not getting anything done…and she looks a bit ridiculous.  Why would anyone choose that as her goal?

Yesterday’s conference reminded me that a happy life is about movement, not balance.  We each have our own routine for each day, and the way through it is to get going.

So Ladies… let’s stop talking about balance, and consider this instead: Whatever you’re doing, are you moving forward?

And THEN, Once you’ve considered this…and probably decided that in most areas you’re NOT moving forward and are, in fact, hopelessly behind… PRAY.  Ask God for his answer to this question, and let him show you the progress he sees in your life.  Because with him, we can have peace, love, joy, fruit, possibility, hope…and that’s much better than balance.

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  • http://melaniekissell.com/blog Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur

    Hi Trish,

    I bet this post is going to strike a chord — and I hope it’s a happy note. :)

    As a single mom (w/four daughters, including twins) and a woman who works three part time jobs offline and runs an online biz, too …

    I have my own unique take on “work-life balance”.

    I simply call it a “juggling act”! And if I’m ever given the opportunity to join the circus, I’ve already perfected my act. ;)

  • http://www.ReneeTrudeau.com renee trudeau

    Ahhh–but what if you defined balance as “Having enough time, energy and resources for those things that matter most”–and “what matters most” changes constantly based on your career/life stage? I hear you and understand your frustration around this topic, but I find if you talk to most women, they all have very different definitions of balance. However, your strong reaction is why I usually use the word “harmony”‘ these days when I speak to women’s conferences about this topic, rather than the mal-aligned b-word.

  • Tara Edelschick

    I don’t like the whole “balance” cult either. Where is that word in the Bible? And yet so many of my church friends seem to worship the idea.

    Having said that, there is something about Godly rhythms that is missing from most of the lives I know, including mine. God has things to say about sleep and rest and work and play and worship. Instead of striving for balance, maybe we should go for obedience.

  • http://sara-kerr.com/ Sara Kerr

    Fantastic! There is no balance–that’s why I was meant to actually hold my iPhone in my hand vs. tuck it between my ear and shoulder while wrenching my back and failing to do something else.