Monday, August 2, 2010

Perfectly Imbalanced

Three years ago, I was sitting at a Ladies Who Launch event, enjoying a rare day away from my just-turned one year old son. I was considering launching my business, and I wanted to see how these other women were doing it. I attended to be inspired, motivated and guided, but reflectively, I was also using the event as a reality check: do women really do this? Do they actually have babies AND have a full-time career? Are they happy? Do any of them obtain that much sought-after state of BALANCE?

And then, much to my delight, their keynote, Geraldine Laybourne, the creator of Nickelodeon and Oxygen Media, spoke these words:

"People often ask me how I stay balanced and I answer, 'I don't! I'm perfectly imbalanced!'" She went on to talk about how there are days or even weeks where it's all work. Then there are days or weekends that are all family. She said it's always 100% no matter what she's working on, so it's often "imbalanced" but that it's perfect for her, and it's how she's chosen to live her life. She doesn't not strive for a "balance" - she feels that's an impossible quest and you will just make yourself unhappy trying to do it.

Perfectly Imbalanced. This phrase was both freeing and scary to me. Freeing because I could actually see a path of happiness that didn't necessarily involve being a superwoman. Scary because it meant letting go of a mental model of perfection I'd created - some things might actually slip or be neglected while I was focusing on others. Was that really okay?

Three years later, I realize that the concept of "Perfectly Imbalanced" is actually a survival technique as well as a way of viewing life. When I'm having one of those days where I feel like work is getting neglected because of my kids, or my family is getting neglected because of work, I use the phrase as a mantra to keep me going..."I am perfectly imbalanced. It's all meant to be, and it's perfect."

The phrase also applies to what we are supporting in
Getting to 50/50. Many people, upon hearing the title, assume it's about splitting it down the middle - perfectly balancing work and home responsibilities between husband and wife. But 9.9/10, you are not splitting 50/50, but striking a perfect imbalance that considers everyone's short and long-term needs, and works for your unique situation.

Letting go of the notion of "balance", and ceasing all effort to obtain it, has allowed me to enjoy my perfectly imbalanced life of ever-shifting priorities. I see my days as a series of decisions that dictate how I am going to spend my time, vs. a prescription for the "right balance" of activities that ultimately never gets met. Viewing my life through this lens allows me to have a longer term view of my life that can be co-created with my husband - it's not about being perfectly balanced every day, but about being able to look back at my life and see that I was able to give proper focus when needed to the right things - sometimes that's family, sometimes it's career, and sometimes it's just me. And that yes, letting things slip can actually be the fastest path to happiness.

Rebecca Rodskog is a Change Management Coach and Consultant, an Actress, Speaker and Writer. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

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