I have two careers to balance—my full time work being a PNP, taking care of sick kids, and the one I’m trying to cultivate, being a writer. Because both are extremely demanding and don’t like to hear the word no, I’m often torn between them. Who do I listen to: a sick kid or a brilliant inspiration from my muse? Do I read the medical journals or write for my blog post? Can I rearrange my weekend clinic schedule so I can make the writer’s meeting? Writer’s conference or NP conference? I enjoy one, but in the back of my mind I wish I could be in two places doing the other as well.
I learned a long time ago you really can’t balance your life. Why? Reality doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it doesn’t always follow your plans. In life you have to make choices—what to buy, where to live. Do you stay late at work or go to soccer practice with the kids? With each decision you don’t just gain, you also lose. If you choose to leave your sick kids at grandma’s or miss the dance recital, your family misses you. If you choose to leave work your co-worker will have to pick up the slack and may not be able to go to their own kid’s scrimmage. The work has to be done even if you aren’t there.
We talk about finding the balance between work and family. I’m not dismissing family by any means. I agree that on your death bed you won’t care about dirty dishes, but our work is more than just household chores. Your chosen career is important to you, sometimes as much as your relationships. Balance means one doesn’t tip the other on the scale. If you aren’t at work, you aren’t contributing to your place of employment. Places of business need people in order to stay in business. Finding balance doesn’t mean always choosing family over work. Constantly ditching work is as unbalanced as being a workaholic.
I know our families need to know they’re most important, but do we really want to teach our children that commitment to work, agreeing to do a good job, is only important until something else you want to do more comes along? If our kids learn bad work ethics they’ll won’t be able to get an education or hold down a job. Then they’ll never move out of the house and you’ll be cooking them breakfast the rest of your life. That’s a lot of pancakes and maple syrup!
The way I figure it is this: when you work, give 100%, even more. Keep the missing work to a minimum. When you play, play 200%. Spend real time, not Facebook or Twitter time, with the people you love. Turn off the TV and talk to each other. Give up on the idea that you can have it all. You will leave your coworkers hanging at times. You won’t make every soccer game. You’ll disappoint people. Others will disappoint you. Those who care about you are forgiving as long as we keep the need for forgiveness to a minimum. That comes in balancing choices and letting go of trying to be and do everything.
We all have conflicting situations in our lives. We all have to deal with others. So, we’ll always have to make choices. Sometimes the decision is obvious. Sometimes it will be choosing the lesser of two evils. Balance comes when you stop listening to others on how life should be and find your own contentment, because in the end, equilibrium is achieved not when you do everything right, but when you’re a peace with knowing you’re not perfect and so therefore your life won’t be.
Embrace the chaos.