Jul 24, 2014

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Disbalance: Not always a Bad thing

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source: mbgrigby

This week, we’re focusing on work and life. To your surprise, however, I’d like to start this conversation by discussing the importance and meaning of disbalance, not balance, as many might expect.

The literature on productivity is filled with ideas and tools on how to create work and life balance.  There is this underlying notion that not having balance between your work, career and personal life is bad, or pathological. I disagree.

You see, when we belief that we need to balance various aspects of our lives in order to feel productive, effective and normal, we set ourselves immediately for failure.  The reality is that life is complicated. We go through life cycles where new opportunities and events arise, and we must attend to those important events at the expense of other important areas of our lives.

I am frequently asked “how do you do it… you have 4 kids, you work and have multiple projects going on…” My secret?  I don’t balance. I sacrifice because I love what I do. I do what needs to be done given the importance of the current opportunity at hand.  I have a very clear goal or mission that guides me.  So when I make the decision to invest time on something, at the expense of something else, it does not feel like I’m neglecting anything in particular — I’m just working on my goals.

So you might say, but what about the kids, the home, family…? Your responsibility as a parent or as a spouse/partner are unnegotiable.  However, that does not mean that you must do everything for your kids, all the time.  Loosen up your idea of a perfect parent or a perfect home.  Do your best with the time you have, and be present.

When you show your children that it is important to have goals and to be passionate about your goals, they learn a valuable lesson.  When I have an important project or deadline coming up, I announce it to the kids.  I tell them why it’s important, and I enlist their help.  It’s beautiful to see is how enthusiastic they become about those projects, and they enjoy witnessing how an idea becomes a reality.

Work and Life Disbalance is Good Because:

  • It means you are passionate about something and working hard at it
  • You are not tortured by the pressure of creating work and life balance
  • It might mean that you are in the middle of a good transition or a great opportunity
  • It might suggest that you are comfortable with living life your way

Work and Life Disbalance is Not Fine When:

In Psychology, level of functioning, or a change in level of functioning is an important factor in assessing the presence of a pathology or disorder.  When work and life is not balanced, AND level of functioning has reduced significantly, this might be a sign that something is not well.  For example, if you find yourself having a hard time balancing your responsibilities at work and at home, and are also experiencing a decrease in your usual level of functioning (at work, at home, as a parent), this is not good disbalance.

But, if lately you’ve fallen behind on keeping your home perfectly organized, and you’ve been ordering out dinner more frequently because you are spending more time on an important work-related project, AND you’re happy and excited, then I say, YOU ARE ALIVE!

Do you try hard to create work and life balance?  Does it always work?

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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Comments

  1. Yes, it helps, it makes the days go by smoother. I do not have the perfect home but its a place I find comfort, love, and peace in. I call that perfect imperfections. It all works out at the end of the day.

    Rachel

  2. I like your point about what appears to be unbalanced as a good thing when you are making sacrifices for something that is WORTH IT to you! We’re not super-humans but it is empowering to choose and decide how much and where to put your efforts, and change that as you see fit!

    I’ve been living life in the not-fine disbalanced category for longer than I like, sacrificing too much of what IS important to me, for a job that doesn’t give me the return I need to make it worth it. I feel lucky to be starting at a new job soon which I believe with give me ‘balance’ and avoid the tolls on my mental and physical health that I could foresee otherwise. I think some would consider my new situation to be unbalanced in the other way, (too much life, not enough work) but I believe it’s what I need to do now, and I feel great about being able to make that decision!

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