In the introduction to How She Does It, I say:
But real life happened, and in response to the demands of bills and work and sanity and children, my husband and I ended up veering from the traditional path. We didn’t mean to be pioneers, but as we responded to the challenges that arose in our own lives it just kind of happened.
We threw work/life balance out the window. We aimed to blend them instead of balancing them, and we were nothing if not surprised at how well it worked for our family. We love this holistic blend, and we’re never going back.
Now, when people say they’re striving for work/life balance, I don’t argue with them. I understand what they’re trying to say. But images are powerful, and the image of work/life balance never worked for me. That mental picture didn’t help me live a well-calibrated life; it made me feel like I was failing.
So you can imagine how pleased I was to see that sentiment echoed by Gretchen Rubin in an interview for her brand new book Happier at Home. Gretchen isn’t striving for balance, either. Instead, she’s trying to “cram her life with the things she loves.” She explains:
For me, balance is not a helpful metaphor because it implies that I have ample time to float through the day, with everything very calm. But it’s not my reality. My reality is very busy and packed. When I think of my life crammed, I cram it with the people I want to see and the things I want to do. It also helps me recognize my priorities. I can’t cram everything in. My experience is that some things have to fall away.
My reality is likewise “busy and packed,” though I spend a lot of time at home with my family, scrupulously guard my calendar, and turn down tons of engagements. I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off (usually), but my life is full. And for this full life, balance is not a helpful metaphor, because things aren’t spread out evenly.
Do you think you’re doing a good job balancing the different areas of your life? Or do you employ a different metaphor, like I do?