I used to think this was a stupid idea: this whole “how to find balance” thing.
But I’ve read some really eye-opening blogs lately on the unglamorous reality of working from home and finally figured it out: These people are morons.
OK, so maybe that’s not so nice. I can hear all my friends’ mothers giving a collective sigh of resigned disappointment. I’m sorry – I don’t really mean literally that people wanting to increase their feelings of control in their worlds are actually stupid.
If you happen to be someone who has sought life balance at some point, please don’t be offended. I’m sure you’re a very nice, intelligent person with excellent taste in clothes and music.
But perhaps you’re just a tad confused.
Bitching and Moaning
If I come across as harsh, it’s probably because, over the course of 2010, I saw about a bazillion tweets, Facebook statuses, and blog posts from people who could find no better way to express their feelings of overwhelm than to constantly complain about their lack of balance between their jobs and their lives.
Of course, work is a part of life, but the assumption appears to be that everything that’s not work should be lumped in together as some sort of secondary category. Ignoring that bit of poor logic, let’s move on to the irony.
A lot of people bitching about trying to find some mystical magic work-life balance point seem to go on and on about how difficult it is to get any work done when there’s so much laundry, cooking, family issues, illness, and other COMPLETELY AVERAGE SHIT going on. Apparently, these folks didn’t bathe, eat, or interact with other humans back when they used to have desk jobs, because doing all this shit now is totally fucking them up.
In 9-to-5 land, people bitch and moan about how difficult it is to have a life and a family while meeting the excessive demands of their soul-crushing jobs.
In freelance land, people bitch and moan about how difficult it is to have a job while meeting the excessive demands of their soul-crushing life and family responsibilities.
If this sounds like you, grow the fuck up.
You’re bitching about the same thing – your own inability to manage your own priorities and attention. You can’t decide. You can’t filter. You don’t know the difference between whatever floats across your perceptual experience and important shit that requires actual attention.
Trust me on this. It’s not that working from home is hard. The problem is that people don’t know how to work. Anywhere.
Maybe some of these balance seekers had unrealistic expectations. Like the expectation that, once they told their bosses to “take this job and shove it,” they would finally live in some kind of Peter Pan fairyland where everything in the universe revolves joyously around them and clients line up to give them money while grateful spouses bake them cookies and adoring children with clean faces pop in at appropriate times to make charming comments.
Not going to happen. At least not until you get your personal shit together.
Maybe I had a rough childhood, but I had to learn how to make time to eat and take baths daily. Sometimes even more often than that. I also learned how to get dressed and do all my chores and deal with my parents without having a fucking aneurysm.
You can do it too.
Balance = Stagnation
My advice to anyone seeking life balance is to go ahead and give up. Really, there is no such thing a balance in a dynamic system, and life? It’s pretty dynamic.
Balance is for things that don’t move, like buildings. If you really think about it, what we usually refer to as “balancing” is really just shorthand for the act of negotiating imbalance. When you walk, stand, move, or do anything at all, you will be in a constant state of imbalance, and the way to keep from falling is always to make continual small adjustments.
The same is true in your life. As you do shit (move), you will need to adjust. As events unfold (more motion), you will need to adjust.
Adjusting is the way to negotiate the imbalance of life.
So if you’re having trouble making it all work, realize that you’re never going to be able to control everything in your universe. You’ll never be able to stop it long enough to balance. Balance is a bullshit concept.
The only thing you can do is adjust to things that come up. Build flexibility into your systems so you can not only get things done, but make changes as necessary.
And for the love of all that is holy and right in the world, quit bitching about how hard it all is. It isn’t.