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Work-Life Balance – A game of jump rope where your feet will get tangled

By Mollie Otieno, a Learning and Development expert

We’ve read it 101 times – work-life balance – how to succeed at “having it all” – and that does sound nice. The thing is that work-life balance isn’t a myth – it’s a straight-up lie. In Rich Jones’s post (Work-Life Balance is a Myth,) from June 6, 2016, he talks about work-life integration; but I feel this integration approach is impossible. It’s more like a game of jump rope. Sometimes you’re jumping solo and sometimes you’re jumping Double Dutch with friends around you singing; no matter how well you jump all the areas of your life eventually you get tangled up and you’ll fall. So, the real conversation isn’t how to have it all, but rather how do you get back up, give yourself a little grace and start jumping again. 

I am lucky – I have a job I love, a beautiful family, and a small group of trusted and treasured friends. If you are looking in from the outside – you might think I have managed to “have it all,” because I do – it’s just never all at the same time. And this is why I would prefer to view life as a game of jump rope – because you will have highs you will have lows and getting all tangled up is just part of the game. 

Not too long ago, I was crushing it at work. I was facilitating class, answering emails, attending meetings, and it was my mother’s 70th birthday. I was moving 200 mph at work and forgot to buy her a nice bottle of champagne. By the time I finished class and had a coaching conversation with a struggling employee, I was also expected to be at dinner in 30 minutes, and the restaurant was 25 minutes away. I was in trouble. When I was ready to leave, I had about 5 minutes to get to the restaurant and was beating myself up; feeling like I had failed personal life. Yes – I could have called my husband earlier and said: “Hun, I know I said I could get the present – but this day has turned into a crap show, and it’s not going to happen.” He would have gone to the store and gotten the champagne. However, I didn’t, because I was telling myself the story that I could do and be it all!! News flash to self; I can’t and now know I don’t want to. 

To do better at my game of jump rope, I am trying these commitments in the hope it will help all of us to believe in the Perfectly Imperfect.

  1. Give yourself some grace – Stop focusing on what you didn’t get done. It is time to stop beating yourself up for the trip-ups. Because spending too much time on the lows of your jumps – means you’re not jumping!
  2. Ask for and trust your help! Most of us are lucky enough to have a great team of people ready to pick us up and dust off our knees.
  3. Stop pretending that you are perfect – It won’t do anything but lead you to feel like an utter failure. Resulting in you getting all tangled up in the jump rope more often.
  4. Know there will be days when you will be a better mom, a better employee, a better spouse – but you can’t do any of that unless you are sharing your struggles, responsibilities, and joys! Let your people join you in a good old game of Double Dutch.
  5. Know that a bad day will come thus will allow us to appreciate the good days even more! Allowing us to get the double spin between each jump.

I do agree with Rich – life is made up of experiences, events, people, and places. Get them in your game of jump rope, and I know you will fall less often. Allowing yourself to be Perfectly Imperfect is to fall less often.

About Rich Jones

Strategic consultant and Keynote Speaker, Rich brings a deep experience in the disciplines of Strategic Planning, Marketing, Business Development, Digital Transformation, Data Utilization, Leadership Development and Cultural Alignment. A husband, father, runner, cyclist, beer drinker with a passion for life.

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