As a working mother of three children, I’m often asked how I “find balance.” Folks want to know how I balance both work and life (um, since when are these mutually exclusive?). It’s as if I’m conquering a tribal vision quest achieved through regular exercise and quarterly aura cleansings.
Yes! If you look hard enough, “balance” is there – hiding in the sock drawer or the back of the fridge. Really? Nope. To this I say: BALANCE BE DAMNED!
I don’t try to achieve balance. Instead, I strive to make each day not suck. I greet the day with a little laughter, a lot of coffee and a smidge of personal forgiveness. I am not going to do it all today.
Next, I set my priorities for what is going to make my day the least suckiest, thereby backing me into a happy place. And then I jump in with this simple checklist in place:
- Snuggle with my children for at least 3-7 minutes prior to frantically getting them clean underpants and strapping on their backpacks.
- Get the kids to school, or basketball, or swimming, or whatever … without spilling on myself or forgetting a shoe.
- Drive to work. Try not to hit anyone.
- Give it my all. Listen. Support my team. Uplift my team. Challenge my team. Try not to hit anyone.
- Have at least one new creative or strategic idea to offer my clients and my colleagues. Make a difference in some way – it might not be a Sally Struthers “save the children” kind of difference everyday, but little things can get great results, too.
- Remember I am human. My left sock has a hole in it and the bags under my eyes will not go away, but thanks for trying, Cover Girl.
- Remember that my coworkers, bosses, clients and friends are human, too. Be driven, but forgiving. Be passionate, not crazy. Be motivating, not a jerk. Be supportive, not judging.
- Be wherever I am needed most. Some days it’s with my clients. Some days it’s with my kids. Some days it’s with my colleagues or my husband or my sisters, brother, friends, mother or father. And yes, some days it’s with all of the above. On those days, I go all in and address as much as humanly possible. I drink a little more coffee. I also find my partners in life and say, “help.” That’s the beauty of having a “WE” mentality – you’re never in it alone. And to those who fall off the list, I let them know: “You are important to me and you’re my number one priority … tomorrow.”
- Laugh. Life hands us garbage. A blue truckload of stinking, rotting garbage. But, I try not to let the garbage take over the glorious green grass of life. I’m stubborn that way. Laugh in garbage’s face as much as you can. Remember who’s in charge of your perspective (hint: it’s you).
- Look around. I’ve got it pretty darn good.
And, surrounding all of this, I plan. I do my best to set attainable goals and prepare the steps necessary to reach them. My personal mantra for close to 20 years has been, “proper planning prevents poor performance.” This allows you to see what you can control and prepare for what you can’t.
So, next time someone asks you how you find balance – smile, thank them for their personal concern for your equilibrium and get back to your priorities.
Oh, and try not to hit anyone.
Beth Crivello-Wagner is Vice President of Client Services at Core Creative.