The Art of Life Unbalanced
Danielle Shoots | @DanielleShoots
The pursuit of balance, aka the pursuit of a fictional force driving us to do one thousand tasks a week we don't want to do and aren't very good at.
How do I feel about balance? Hate it. I hate balance because I hate goals with unclear finish lines, no tools to accomplish desired outcomes, and no way to win. Balance, I believe, is a construct used to make women feel like the mastery of life is always just out of reach. Too often, the term “balance” is a billy club of judgement used by and against women, made all the more potent and dangerous because of its ambiguity and therefore its potential for all-encompassing condemnation.
I propose there is a solution to the overwhelming mind twist that is the pursuit of balance. That solution is the creation of boundaries.
Boundaries are the opposite of balance.
Boundaries mean the acknowledgment of the number of hours in a day, the tasks you can complete in those hours, and the skills you may or may not possess to accomplish those tasks. Think about your day and think about how many tasks you complete that you either hate doing, are bad at doing, or both. Try setting a boundary, one day, and one task at a time. Chose one thing on your daily list that you hate and are bad at and develop an alternative solution. For example, if you hate cooking dinner and you're also not good at it, stop doing it. Make dinner a team task for the family, order out two nights a week, use a meal service, or meal prep on Sundays so you don't have to cook during the week. You can even do my all-time favorite, cereal and carrot sticks! The beauty is, it doesn't matter how you draw this boundary for yourself, it just matters that you draw it. I am good at cooking but don't love it so I cook once a month with the family and freeze our meals. I have also taught my son to cook because he likes it. Now my husband and son are responsible for meals even if it means they simply remember to defrost a frozen meal or order something for the family.
The number one rule in boundaries: you cannot let yourself feel bad by making comparisons. Resist the urge to compare, and check your judgment of others at the door, because we are all doing the best we can.
Balance is ambiguous. Boundaries are clear. Let go of balance. Embrace boundaries. Say it with me. Did I achieve boundaries today? Sounds so much more powerful.