FINDING BALANCE IN A NOT-SO-PERFECT WORLD
by Joyce Savoline
Balance it seems, is that intangible ideal that we as women are so often seeking. This is the underlying message I hear from people. And while I’m sure that finding ‘life balance’ is a priority to both sexes, why is it that as women, balance can be likened to a unicorn – a mythical creature that is beautiful to behold if only it were real?
I think for women, finding balance has become increasingly more difficult because just as we have made great strides in civil rights and workplace equality, these gains have also brought with them, increased pressures. It used to be, that household and child rearing duties defined women’s roles.
Today, what I hear from young women, is that not only are they working (and succeeding) in the workplace, but they remain the primary caregiver and chief goddess of all things domestic. Of course some of this is by choice and some of it (arguably) is innate. Let’s face it – we’re just programmed differently from men.
So recognizing that increasingly there are competing pressures between work and home (including aging parents, soccer games and societal obligations), how does one find balance amongst duelling priorities? There’s no one answer and there’s no right answer either. It comes down to personal choice and being able to change what is in one’s control to change.
For myself, some semblance of balance is found by scheduling free time in my calendar. My staff knows that ‘DO NOT BOOK’ means keeping time aside to allow me to get caught up on my priority of the moment. These times are set aside so that I can do what I feel needs to be done to be a good mother, good friend, good wife, or be good to myself. I finally realized that if I don’t carve out and place a value on my time to use it to accomplish what I want to do as opposed to what I have to do, then I will never get it.
Perhaps the first step to achieving balance is recognizing that life is not perfect. There is a huge difference between expectations and reality. This makes the concept of balance, at best, a fluid one.
So, if finding that elusive chord of balance is as tough as ‘Finding Nemo’, then maybe what we need to do is give ourselves a break. As women, too often we are our own harshest critics! Competing interests will forever challenge our quest for balance so perhaps we just need to learn to be flexible in the expectations we have of ourselves.
Certainly experience has shown me the necessity for adapting to change quickly. And, while a life of balance may prove elusive, I have found that humour is inherent in even the most tenuous situations and this has been my fortitude in times of duress.
Joyce Savoline, Halton Regional Chairman,http://www.companyofwomen.ca/