The point is that both big and small adjustments are inevitably necessary to maintain work/life harmony. Instead of aiming for equitable division of your work/life time, strive for purposeful give-and-take. Give more time to work this week since that report is due on Friday, in return
for more time for your personal life next week. Or, give more time to your personal life during the next two months—to be with your new baby—in return for more time for work during the following months.
Eventually the season will change, and you will return to some of the things you were forgoing. But something else will always come up. This is the natural flow of harmonious living: giving and taking, back and forth between personal and professional activities. Thus, purposeful imbalance—not perfect balance—is the only way you can achieve a gratifying work life without decimating your personal life, and a gratifying personal life without abandoning your career aspirations.
Imbalance Is Natural—The Key Is to Make It Purposeful
Accepting imbalance as a natural part of your life will give you guilt-free license to focus on certain pressing needs. But you can’t guess blindly which needs are most important. You must have a plan for zeroing in on the right needs, or you’ll be tempted to use your new mind-set as a cop-out for workaholism, apathy, or indecision. An effective plan includes adopting new practices that allow you to be purposeful about your choices so that you never suffer the consequences of leaning too far in one direction.
Think of purposeful imbalance this way: if you’re on a high wire and you lean one way, you can’t continue leaning or you’ll fall from the wire. Like the Flying Wallendas, you have to know when to lean back the other way . . . and then back the other way . . . and so on, all the while progressing across the wire.
Adapted with permission from Life on the Wire by Todd Duncan, copyright Todd Duncan.