Saturday was a “no work” day. I had a list of things I’d planned to do, but when I rolled over and saw how gorgeous it was outside, I just couldn’t bear the idea of spending the day at my laptop. My decision not to check my email and to only write “for pleasure,” was an even bigger deal to me because I’d spent Friday night in chill mode. It was a week after my vacation and I was trying to maintain some piece of that peace. As I walked through the farmer’s market, the word balance came to mind. Was this is it? Had I started to figure out how to make that unicorn of a word a reality? “Nah, there’s no such thing as balance,” I thought to myself. “But, this might be sustainable.”
The discussion around balance or the “myth of balance,” is always one that intrigues me. It started popping up in undergrad when incoming students would ask how to balance school, work and an active social life. Friends, advisors, and professors always had a list, but when it was my turn I always declared that I didn’t believe in balance.
Balance became the topic of choice again when friends started to get into serious relationships. Questions of work-life balance swirled, especially when husbands and children were involved. As the single gal, I left that one alone, but not before mentioning “work-life function” as an idea or model. The term entered my vocabulary after reading Thembisa Mshaka’s Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [Entertainment] Business.
There will always be something that is getting more attention, but that doesn’t mean the other areas of your life have to suffer. You have to figure what mix of time for work, family, and self allows for the best level and smoothest level of functioning.
Now, the discussions have become about work-life integration. After connecting with a small group of entrepreneurs in NY through the DIY Business Association, I was quite intrigued by the number of projects and ventures people in the group managed to have on their plate at once. They admitted to long hours, but no one bragged about team no sleep. They never used the word balance either. The idea was that everything didn’t have to be separated. Sometimes work bleeds into life and life mixes in with your work. If you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t really matter as much. The other part of integration is knowing what you tend to focus on more and not being ashamed of it.
I’m not sure what model or phrase works best for what I’m trying to achieve. But, sustainable always pops into my head. I need a work-life flow that I can maintain. No crashes. No burnouts. Limited stress. Maybe that’s balance, maybe it’s function, maybe it’s integration. What do you call it?