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I believe that work life balance is a myth. Instead of running after it, you can do things to lead a happier, more contented life, instead.
As a single woman steadily climbing the corporate ladder, I was always in awe of the ‘super women’. Women who apparently had the best of both worlds – a glamorous well-paying career, a doting husband, adorable kids and supportive family. I wondered if I would ever reach there. I wished I would be lucky enough to find a family that would support me after I got married.
After several years of marriage and two kids, I don’t wish for these anymore. Because I believe that work-life balance is a myth. This change of perception was brought about after I started working.
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I was a stay-at-home-mom for my older son and started working a few months after my second son was born. A year into my job, my project got terminated and I stayed at home for another couple of months before I found the job I am at currently. So, I have seen both sides of the coin.
I experienced how my own feelings and those of others towards me changed. I saw how my routine, priorities and ability to accomplish tasks changed. Frankly, there is no work-life ‘balance’. Some days, we feel guilty about working long hours. Other times, we feel guilty about taking the much-needed vacation. The ‘balance’ is a constant work in progress.
The day I gave up trying to ‘balance’ was the day I felt a big load leave my shoulders. I was amazed at how light I felt. Instead of balancing life like an acrobat, there is a better and less stressful way to lead life. Here are my five pointers for a less ‘balanced’ but happier life.
Accept yourself for who you are. Understand that it is physically impossible to do everything on your list, every time. It is OK to be just a ‘woman’. It is OK to forget, and you don’t have to apologize every time. It is OK to be YOU. As a side note, use post-its, google calendar reminders, whatever works for you.
Every weekend, I sit with a notepad and start writing. I do the grocery list, things to do, things to email and anything else I can think of. Even things I was supposed to do a year ago and never go around to.
I start with the least time-consuming tasks first and prioritize the bigger tasks. I also try to club them together. For example, hitting the gym is a priority so I will do that first before heading to the grocery store. I make a note that I can pick up the dry cleaning since it is on my way to the grocery store. I need to buy birthday presents but cannot fit it in – I decide to buy them on Amazon instead and to do it during my lunch break at work. There are a few other things I see but I cannot fit anything else, so I leave them for now. I will tackle them in my next list. Todoist, ToodleDo and Google Keep are great to-do list apps.
When you are at work, enjoy the challenge of contributing to something larger than you. DO NOT worry about the kids (unless you get a call from school). When you are with the kids, don’t fret about the presentation you have to work on. Give your 100% to each moment you are in. Living in the moment also frees up energy that you can draw from.
Let go of things that don’t make it into your priority list or never get done. Don’t get time to clean the house – train the kids to help you. Don’t have time to buy that birthday present – give a gift card. Keep a stack of gift cards at home if that helps. Don’t have time to cook – balance home cooking with healthy, nutritious store-bought snacks. Bath time is always screams and tears for us and I give everyone a break by skipping it Saturday nights. In ten years, no one will remember that you kept the home spotless. Look back at your own childhood. What are your fondest memories about your mom? If in doubt, try listening to Frozen’s ‘Let it go‘.
Stop comparing with the Indra Nooyis and the Marissa Mayers of the world. These are amazing women who inspire us. I don’t want to diminish that in any way. But we never see what happens behind the scene. Every one of us is at a different life stage, dealing with unique situations and circumstances. You are Wonder Woman in your own little world, doing great things. Women are incredibly talented but always feel that they ‘don’t deserve it’ when accolades come knocking. Claim your space and hold your head high. You might be the next Indra Nooyi. That’s something to feel good about, isn’t it?
What are your tricks and tips that keep you going? I would love to hear from you!
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I am an Indian living in the United States. Family comprises my husband and two
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