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.
There’s a new buzzword I’ve been hearing lately. On the heels of one of my favorite topics, balance, comes the new word, harmony. Instead of seeking a work-life balance, it seems we now want to create a harmonious life instead. It 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. Once we stop fighting and surrender to our own imperfections, life can be happily liberating.
- 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.
- Having balance during what I call ‘the defining years’ is close to impossible. Defining years are roughly from age 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.
- 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 people your age are in the same position.) Get the financial aspects 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 relationships. I am in my late forties and I found it shocking to realize how many others like me there are. Trust me, the best can still be ahead of you.
- 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.
- 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 mindfulness is giving up resistance and forcing ourselves to find pleasure in our lives even 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.