A good friend of mine once shared his theory that most successful people are driven more by a fear of failure than a desire for success. I have to confess – that hit home more than I would like to admit, especially when it comes to balancing my work life with my family life.
Before jumping into J2 Media full time, I spent more than a decade working in a government environment, with traditional work hours that included plenty of evenings and weekends. At the same time, my kids were in grade school, meaning there were countless moments that I felt I was missing; reading challenges, class parties, band performances and field trips just to name a few. I’ll never forget watching the moms every Halloween bring their toddlers to the annual costume contest and trying to figure out, “How do they DO that?” But I was one of the lucky ones; my boss was understanding, and showed her appreciation for my long hours by giving me the freedom to do the ‘mom thing’ in the classroom as often as I could. On paper, this was textbook work-life balance.
But it never felt that way to me. What it really seemed like was constant failure at both. Thank goodness a little perspective goes a long way. Now that I’m in the thick of running a business, the hours are certainly still hectic and long, but I have enormous freedom in choosing the day and time to get things done. It turns out I wasn’t making such a mess of things after-all. One of the most eye-opening conversations I had was with my now-teenage son who admits that he didn’t feel like he was missing anything. Rather, my professional appearance set me apart from the “mom” vibe. “I always loved that you looked professional and like a business person. You didn’t just wear jeans and t-shirts every day.” And all that time I had felt out-of-place in my suit and heels trying squeeze a little mom-time into my workday.
I think work and home life can be balanced – just not at the same time. Sometimes life is heavy on the work side, with weekend video shoots and evening meetings. Other times its out-of-balance in favor of family reunions or playing hooky with the kids. Mostly, it’s about making sure not to beat ourselves up too much, or second-guess every move we make.. It’s easy to get so caught up in the “go go go!” and that floundering feeling, but it’s important to remember that life is about the big picture.For a well-rounded one, you need to accept that your balancing act will tip and teeter to the rhythm you set.