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Harmony vs Balance

Lately I’ve been hearing women talk a lot about trying to have balance between their work and home lives. To me, the issue with that is the word balance makes it seem like we are going to have this perfectly even amount of each part of our lives, like an equally sliced pumpkin pie. But that level of perfection is almost impossible to attain, and so we just get frustrated in continual search for an unattainable ideal. Instead, I like to think of it as achieving harmony, where everything works together simultaneously but there can be different levels of each piece of our lives throughout the song of whatever season we are in. Here is the question-why do we always search for this balance or harmony in our lives to begin with? The answer is that we realize that as women, we are expected to be all things to all people at all times, and that is completely unrealistic. So in order to get as close to super woman status as is humanly possible, we start juggling, and we keep going until every plate is in the air and eventually they all come crashing down. And that, my friends, is called burnout.

Too many of us are in a constant state of chronic stress, and 25% of professionals say they are moderately burnt out, with those of us who are highly passionate about what we do experiencing even higher rates than that. Women are particularly susceptible because as I mentioned before, we carry on ALL roles at ALL times. Men are hard wired to compartmentalize much more easily than women, while we are wired to multi-task. Historically our roles included having and taking care of children, cooking, cleaning, gathering, socializing, and being good family members, friends, and mates. Whereas men were expected to hunt. See the problem here? It didn’t get any easier when modern women added working-and rightfully so-onto their agendas. So what do we need in order to embrace all the roles we are given, and have passionate and productive lives of our own as well? 

First, we need to design a lifestyle that has flexibility to fit work in and around our busy schedules. I was astounded to find out that 865,000 women left the workforce in September this year. Some were laid off or had jobs that simply didn’t exist anymore due to the pandemic, such as in the hospitality industry. But the vast majority of those women left because they are now expected to home school their children at least part time, and couldn’t be two places at the same time and weren’t allowed to work from home with their kids. So if you are one of those women whose life and schedule has been turned upside down with the economic shutdowns, here are some ways you can work to create more harmony in all areas of your life:

  1. Set good boundaries and take a page from our male counterparts. Try to focus on only one task at a time, and turn your brain off of anything else, even if it’s just for a short time. Multi-tasking isn’t as effective as we like to believe. It’s a badge of honor for a woman to say she is good at multi-tasking, but in reality it just leads to increased stress, memory impairment, lack of focus and difficulty staying on and completing tasks. Have you ever wondered why something just keeps not getting done? It could be because you are trying to do too many things at one time. 

  2. Fill your own cup first, and give to others from the overflow. Women are naturally givers, but when we constantly give to everyone else without giving to ourselves first, we have nothing left in the tank and can become irritable, exhausted, overwhelmed and anxious. Take time for good self-care, give yourself breaks and rewards throughout the day, and enjoy yourself. Not only will you be happier, but everyone around you will as well. 

  3. Reassess your priorities often and adjust them as needed. Things change on an almost every day basis especially now, so do mini check-ins to make sure your schedule is working for you and your family, and tweak things whenever necessary to make sure that your days and weeks are running smoothly. If you are having a challenge around dinner time each night, perhaps meal prepping on the weekend to make it easier for yourself during the week is in order. Or if you are a morning person but you keep trying to finish your work at night and then fall asleep and don’t get anything done, plan to get up a little earlier to give you the time you need to get a head start in the morning instead. Do what is right for you and your energy, not just what you’ve always done. Now is the time to pivot and be flexible.

  4. Be mindful and present in the moment, and practice gratitude daily. Take mental breaks in your day to just breathe and be grateful for this life and what you have in it. What do you get to do versus have to do? What advantages do you have that maybe others in this world don’t? Who do you get to spend your days with that you love and appreciate, even though they may drive you a little batty sometimes? Even just having gratitude for the air flowing in and our of your lungs is important. Having an attitude of gratitude will help you lead a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life. If you want some ideas on how to practice mindfulness in your life, click here for my free Guide to Mastering Mindfulness.

  5. Delegate wherever you can, and get support. Again, we can’t be everything to everyone constantly and harboring that expectation of yourself only causes guilt, shame and overwhelm,  which are not healthy emotions. Make sure to enlist the help of the people closest to you, and share the responsibilities with them. Doing things together will bring you together, and asking for help is showing others that you value their input and work as well. And if you need professional support to help you create a plan of action, overcome those limiting beliefs and emotions, and create harmony in your life, please feel free to book a free 30 minute call to explore your options.

You absolutely can have a life that you love, and that flows with ease. Is it always simple, no! But once you find that harmony, all it takes is small course corrections to keep your song flowing beautifully. Sometimes the notes may be deeper, sometimes lighter. But no matter what song you are singing, the point is that it is YOUR song, and that you create what you want it to be. Here’s to a harmonious rest of your 2020 and beyond!