Recently I came across someone else’s blog post on the topic of life balance. The author emphasized the need to be sure all areas of your life are working, using the analogy of a car: if one part of the car isn’t working, eventually the whole car dies. For instance, you’ll soon be having problems in your job.
But is that always true?
In an interview for her book, Generally Speaking, Retired General Claudia Kennedy acknowledged that her life did not have balance for a long time. She divorced her husband and had not remarried by the time she left the military. She chose to be extremely discreet about her relationships and personal life.
And a professor I know told his wife, when he was starting out, “I’m going to have to be gone a lot because I need to pump out this research to have a career. It won’t be forever.” Today he’s famous in his field, earns big consulting fees and his whole family take long vacations in wonderful destinations.
What can you seek instead of balance?
Instead of balance, think of having several domains in your life or your career. When something’s going wrong in one area, it’s usually going great in another. When I was in academia, if my teaching was headed south, I’d be rewarded in my research. When I hit a wall on research, a delightful group of students would appear in my classes.
In fact sociologists have recognized the need for what they call multiple roles. When you have too many roles, you probably know you’ll feel overloaded. But if you have too few roles, you put too much energy into a particular role and end up getting fixated on the outcome. And you can create a disaster by worrying too much.
The key seems to be not seeking balance but staying aware of trouble spots. If your car develops a funny noise You can decide you’ll keep going for awhile and visit the shop only if the noise changes.
But when you pretend there’s no funny noise and keep going … that’s where the problem comes. If you hate your job or your business has become a drag, you have to take action or you’ll sabotage your own best efforts.
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