The word irritates me to no end. I truly don’t understand the modern obsession with balance: Balanced diet, work-life balance, and of course, the notorious question pointed to all career-oriented mothers (much less than their male counterparts), “how do you balance between a career and raising children?” For years I traveled intensively in Sub-Saharan Africa with my medical device startup. If only I had a penny for every time I was asked this question. At the time, my immediate response was to feel like I’m failing; failing to balance, failing myself and possibly failing my family. But no more.
I stopped looking for balance in my life when I understood that obsessing over the correct balance between different aspects of my life actually led me to confusion and anxiety; i.e. imbalance. Try replacing Balance with Mindful Choices. It worked for me.
Once I embraced the concept of mindful choices, I started trusting myself that the decisions I make about resource allocation, HERE and NOW, are right. I’ve stopped tormenting myself to strive for balance. During various periods of my life, different aspects require my attention and I let that be.
The onset of the Covid pandemic brought with it challenges, but also triggered an unexpected tidal wave of creativity that has reshaped every aspect of my life. I’ve unearthed passions that, at times, keep me up all night and/or working nonstop. People around me (especially those that get “I have an idea!” emails at 4:30am) tell me that I lack balance. I refer them to an article I once read about the F-16 fighter plane. Apparently it was specifically designed to be aerodynamically unstable and imbalanced; that is precisely what enables its masterful maneuverability and unprecedented speed. So, really, imbalance can be a superpower.
My “superpower” has certainly impacted my children, Liam (17) and Jonathan (14). Many a time they don’t see their mother until they completed a few school zoom sessions and made their own breakfast. There are days they check on me to ensure I’ve eaten, and sometimes take ownership of making meals for the three of us.
If that’s the price of imbalance, I’m more than willing to pay.