Work-life balance is something I have been writing about for years. As a single mom, immigrant, and entrepreneur, I am no stranger to the day-to-day struggles many of you face.
Putting in the hours to build a business, raising my daughter unassisted, earning enough money for both of us, and somehow holding onto a social life—all while taking care of myself and looking good—were the obstacles I faced in order to have it all.
Wanting everything is not for the weak. It is a lot of work. Going after it without driving ourselves crazy takes acceptance of our current life stage and mindfulness to put it into perspective.
There’s a new buzzword I’ve been hearing lately. On the heels of one of my favorite topics, balance, comes the new hot word, harmony. Instead of seeking a work-life balance, it seems we now want to create a harmonious life instead. This got me thinking…
I ran the words and scenarios through my head for days and came up with a conclusion—there is not much difference between balance and harmony for me. Just like finding our work-life balance is a challenge for most, so too is achieving harmony. Think about it. If we are not in balance, how can there be harmony?
As a woman who has defied the odds and made the impossible dream happen by building a business and selling it to Bill Gates (I still pinch myself every day), I have a thing or two to say about balance. Those who work with me or have taken one of my courses know I am practical and honest about how hard it can be.
Finding your balance and harmony is a daily battle. To help make it a little easier, here are a few of the things that I learned to accept instead of resist. Acceptance and mindfulness allow us to surrender to our own imperfections. When we stop fighting the life stage we’re in, our lives can be happily liberating.
1.) You can have whatever you want—but only if you set a main focus and have one priority at a time. You stick with it until you succeed, no matter how long it takes. Then, and only then, you move to the next item on your wish list. Do not try to have everything all at once. Chances are you will end up disappointed or even make yourself sick.
2.) Having that perfect balance during what I call ‘the defining years’ is close to impossible. Defining years are roughly from ages 25-40 because what we do during those years will define the rest of our lives. Therefore, being mindful of what is really important to you is the key to your personal and professional success.
3.) It’s okay if you have to put your personal life on hold for now because you are focused on building your skills or business. (You’ll be surprised how many other women are in the same position.) Get the worries of supporting yourself out of your way so you can enjoy your social life when the time comes around. There is no deadline for when you can create your personal happiness. I know this firsthand because it has only been recently after my daughter graduated from college that I have time to enjoy friends and found that special relationship. I recently turned 50 and I find it shocking to realize how many others like me there are. Trust me, the best can still be ahead of you. And when you get here it is joyful and rich!
4.) There is no police who will sentence you for committing the crime of not living up to your own standards. Self-imposed deadlines take the joy away from living mindfully in the present, and you only feel bad when you can’t meet your due dates. You are here to enjoy the journey, so accept that you are not fully in control.
5.) Balance or harmony is the mindfulness of recognizing the ebb and flow of life. When I used to work as a producer, I often had six intense production months that took every moment of my days and nights and then things slowed down over the summer. I used to freak out and stress knowing that there would be a slow period because what if I’d never get another job? I now realize that worrying was all in vain. Instead, I urge you to celebrate your busy times and take time to relax in the slow times. Neither state will last forever.
The key to living with acceptance and mindfulness is to give up resistance and force ourselves to find pleasure in our lives—even when (especially when) they don’t go according to our pre-conceived plans. When I was in the dumpster with a personal debt of $135,000 and a very bleak future ahead of me, I always held onto the belief that there had to be something better coming. I didn’t know what that was, and luckily, I wasn’t too set on the outcome because what did come my way was so much bigger and better than anything I could have dreamed.
You are next. Start by giving up your resistance.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
My life so far has not been a smooth road—I’ve endured many high peaks and low valleys so far. I’ve accepted that is the hand I was dealt, and I’m playing it to the best of my abilities. But, it’s not easy and I have to remind myself daily that I must trust in the Universe’s path for me.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I think I look pretty damn good for 50! The physical changes after 45 are not easy to watch, but I will fight to look and feel good for as long as I can. Bring it on.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
Looking back at my life and all the heartache, upheaval, and time spent worrying about how it would all work out, I am most proud of who I am and where I am today, right now. My dreams for the future include seeing The Women’s Code be the standard for a collaborative supportive sisterhood.
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
I like to think my childhood in Germany toughened my skin and taught me to not be afraid of hard work. I consider myself German-engineered. The USA has softened my edges but I can still dole out healthy servings of tough love when I need to!
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you! Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
…community of sisterhood because we pull each other through tough times!