It seems every discussion lately about working women is tied to the term “work-life balance.”
Having been there, done that – I don’t get it! I don’t know what the issue is or what point women are trying to make.
Are women trying to justify leaving work to watch the kids at soccer practice? Are they seeking recognition for carrying a greater load in taking care of their children and homes?
Or are they setting “work-life balance” as a higher moral purpose – as a rationalization to why we are not advancing up the corporate ladder?
No matter what the reason is, I don’t see women coming from a position of strength and empowerment in this discussion. It seems we are trying to justify what we are doing. Instead we should take a lesson from men and just do it!
I recently heard a woman discussing why she took a different job. She was traveling about an hour and a half each way to work and found a position that was 20 minutes from her home. Her new job was comparable to her old position. She then went on to discuss how she can now attend her son’s baseball practice and has more time for her family. She now has better “work-life balance.”
My reaction was that she doesn’t need to explain that saving over 2 hours a day commuting is better for her family – we all get that. A man would explain taking the new job was a “better move” and leave it at that. No further elaboration or justification. It is up to others to interpret what that means – the only impression he leaves is that he made a positive move.
We intuitively understand that commuting is a waste of time and those 2 hours can be spent more productively. When women tie the discussion to work-life balance they leave the impression that the additional 2 hours will all be directed to family. The man doesn’t.
The man left the impression that he is thinking in terms of productivity, looking at the big picture. He has only 24 hours in his day; he found 2 hours of waste and has now eliminated them.
His additional 2 hours can be spent at work, at the gym or with his family – or all of the above – each day is flexible. The 2 hours he gained will be used productively in whatever manner he decides is best. He does not advertise his daily decision – he just does it.
The man is coming from an empowered perspective, he is taking charge and in control of his time. He doesn’t care what others think. The woman however, sends the message that she is reacting to pressures and conflict from home. She is not in command of her home life.
TIME OUT!! As I was about to post this article it hit me – I know what is so off about this work-life balance discussion!
LOOK AT THE DRAWING ABOVE – THAT’S THE PROBLEM!!
The picture shows a woman walking a tightrope!!
Women think they have to walk a tightrope – perfectly balance family and work.
Are women expecting everyone to look at women like this and proclaim “Wow, look at how skilled she is! Men can’t do that!”
Is everyone supposed to think “Walking this tightrope is so much harder than climbing to the top of the corporate ladder!”
What is wrong with this discussion is that women are looking for affirmation from society and it’s not going to come. That’s because the analogy of walking a tightrope isn’t an accurate portrayal of life.
Back in the 80’s women used to talk about “walking a fine line.” For every situation or problem we faced, there was a narrow window of acceptable solutions. As a result we wound up second guessing everything we did, so afraid we weren’t going to get it right. It was stressful to believe that making even the slightest misstep meant disaster. Is it no wonder women dropped out of the male-dominated business world?
The tightrope balancing act is a repeat of the fine line. If you imagine yourself up on tightrope, what happens when you fall? Eventually, you will fall. When you fall, how are you going to feel? Unworthy? Inferior? Is something inside you going to break and then you will feel like you can’t get back up on the tightrope?
I’ve learned from experience that there is no fine line, there is no tight rope. Men know this. My life analogy is the Tomorrowland Speedway at Disney World. You are driving a barely responsive car and you can never stay perfectly on course but then who cares? It’s fun to go as fast as you want, constantly steering, making adjustments, bumping into another car, laughing at yourself and others!
The reality is that we don’t walk a tighrope through life, we steer. This month work requires extra time, next month there is more free time. Ebbs and flows, adjustments to the left then to the right. That’s life. That’s all this is. It is what we have been doing for thousands of years.
There won’t be cheering crowds watching how well you manage your life because everyone is too busy steering through their own. So get off the tightrope, get your feet back on the ground. Enjoy the freedom. Enjoy the room to get a bit of course then make the correction.
Yes, in this case, we can learn from men. We don’t have to justify or advertise our decisions on how we manage our time, our lives, our work. And we don’t need to ask for affirmation or approval from the outside world. Do what you think is best. Just run your life. If people see women steering they see women taking control. This when people have confidence in us. This is when we earn respect for our decisions.
Empowered women don’t think about work-life balance because they they just run their lives the best they can.
I want to hear your thoughts and opinions so leave a comment!!
If you want to subscribe to my articles, contact me.