It is a truth universally acknowledged that any woman who is asked her secret to “having it all” will answer with one terrifying word: balance.
But in the same way that I don’t buy that Jennifer Aniston maintains her glowing skin just by “drinking a lot of water
and moisturizing” (Jen, I love you, but please), I don’t buy that any of these women have achieved balance.
Where is balance in a world of side hustles, graduate school, volunteering, wine nights, school meetings, partners who want to spend time with you (the nerve) and the demands of corporate life?
A small survey published by Bustle Trends Group found that 48% of women did not feel they had achieved work-life balance. And fun fact: although it’s much less discussed, according to Pew Research data, men are nearly as likely as
women to say they struggle with juggling professional and personal demands.
Scientifically speaking, to be balanced means to be in stasis. To be balanced is to be quite literally not moving–a nearly
impossible state to achieve in a culture that requires change and growth to survive.
The pursuit of ever-elusive balance can feel like just one more thing we’re failing at. So here’s an idea: let’s stop
pretending balance is an achievable (or even desirable) goal. Here are three goals we can strive for instead:
Obviously I am the type of person who picks a word for the year. My word for 2020 is intention. I know, I know. It’s very
I think of intention as living on purpose. Instead of chasing balance or perfect discipline, I wanted to focus this year
on consistently showing up for the things that were important to me. What if instead of trying to perfectly juggle
the 100 million things going on in your life, you instead chose to be more intentional with what you allowed into it in the first place? By approaching your life as if it’s something happening on purpose, you can take ownership of the things under your control.
Just reading about “a day in the life” of a successful woman is often exhausting. Each morning they go on a 1,000 mile run,
meditate for 3 hours and stare lovingly into the eyes of their child for several light years. For us less successful women, the mere mortals who snooze alarms and wake up after the sun, rest is important.
What does rest look like to you? Sitting in silence for 30 minutes? Going for a run? Re-reading Twilight? Instead of pursuing the things the self care industry (and it is an industry) tells us are restful (face masks, cycling classes, expensive memberships), focus on the things that actually relax your spirit.
Seeking balance can often result in constant feelings of guilt. Either you’re spending too much time with your kids or too
much time at work. Neglecting your partner or your friends. Finding perfect equilibrium is basically impossible.
The reality is that no one can be everywhere at once. Instead of trying to balance all the things, focus on being present in
the current moment. If you’re at work, fully engage. If you’re with your kids, put the phone down and be present with them. Tons of research has found that people who are engaged in the present moment are happier and less stressed.
Here’s the thing: if thinking about intention, rest and presence is stressful or unhelpful to you, just don’t do it. As
Caroline Calloway once said, the secret to having it all is there is no secret.
The point isn’t to live a perfect life. The point is to live the best version possible of your life. Even if it is a little unbalanced.
What about you? Is dehydration the reason I’ve had hormonal acne since I was a child? Is balance a myth? Comment below and let us know.
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