What is balance anyway?

prioritiesA lot of women are asking about how to achieve balance.

We’re looking for ways to balance our schedules.  We want family-work-life balance.  We want to be a good mother, sister, wife, and friend. We also want professional and financial success.  We want to be physically fit. We crave meaning, purpose and of course, we want to enjoy our lives along the way.

We want to make a difference in the world, but we don’t want our lives to get off balance while we do it.

The problem with trying to find balance is simple.  Life doesn’t work that way.

Especially not for women.

We define success for ourselves by how well we do it all, not just how well we do at one part.

Finding a way to balance all the different aspects of our lives is a myth.

I got up at 5:30 to write this and didn’t get very far before the boys woke up, they just came in with big hugs and kisses.  Then they said, Let’s go get dressed while mom makes our breakfast.

Even though teaching them responsibility is something I’m working hard on, the part of me that takes sheer joy in caring for those two said, Yes! That sounds like a good plan.  

I live by my priorities and that slows down my work sometimes.

And for me, that’s okay.  It’s not always easy, but I’m super clear on it.  My family is my priority, no matter what.

There was a defining moment regarding this for me last year.  Out of the blue, I was introduced to someone who wanted to help me raise capital for HeartStories.  The first time we met, he told me he could see HeartStories becoming a successful, public company.  That we have what it takes to “go all the way”.  It was very encouraging and inspiring, until . . . he said, But let’s be clear on one thing.  If we go this route, “Mommy and Me” time is over.

If you’re a mom, you can imagine what happened next.  Especially if you’re this mom who has been incredibly intentional about prioritizing her life.

As the words left his tongue, I sat up a little taller and took a deep breath and said, Then you have the wrong girl.  What you seem to have missed, is that the very foundation of everything I’m doing with HeartStories is to encourage women to live the stories of their hearts.  My family is the very center of my heart.  This work that I’m doing with HeartStories, comes next.  “Mommy and Me” time will never be over. 

Needless to say, we didn’t end up going that route.  We decided instead, to focus on building this marketplace of socially responsible products and a community to support female social entrepreneurs.  Behind the scenes, we’re watching it turn into a beautiful collaboration of women.  Women supporting other women.

Being clear on my priorities and really living by them, makes room for so much more joy in my work.  

That doesn’t mean I don’t miss some things because I’m working.  It certainly doesn’t mean I always drop what I’m doing to spend time with my kids.  It does mean that they see me do both.  It means I give myself the freedom to make choices that align with my priorities.

It means my kids know they are a top priority in my life.

There’s no such thing as balance in this fast-paced world we live in.  Our priorities rule our lives, whether we realize it or not.  If you don’t decide what’s first, someone else will.

Priorities can shift over time.  They might even shift from day to day, but your first few priorities will usually stay the same.

Taking care of yourself has to be your first priority.  It’s clearly easier said than done, but I’ve learned everything else will suffer if you don’t do this first.  (It’s the old oxygen mask idea.)  Find a few things you can do to care for yourself in short snippets if you have to.

I encourage you today, to decide what your priorities are for today or for this week.  Then, look at your to-do list.   Make your priorities the back drop for everything you do.

Be gentle with yourself.  

Keeping priorities aligned comes in seasons.  And it takes practice.  There will be days you feel like you really blow it.  And that’s OK.

There will be days of victory, when you realize you made huge strides.  And you should celebrate.

When you’re passionately fulfilling your purpose in your high priority areas, the rest of your life will have more joy.

It’s not about trying harder and sacrificing more. Its about living more, loving more and being present wherever you are.

I’d love to hear what’s worked for you in aligning your priorities or even areas you’ve struggled.

We’re all in this together.

To more love,

Crystal

 

 

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