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Stephanie Marston is America's Foremost Life Balance Expert

Issue 10 October 2005

Find Balance

The majority of us are exhausted from climbing the corporate ladder, dressing for success and trying to balance our work and family lives. We live as if we are careening down a freeway at warp speed. Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us thrive on the excitement of being under pressure. We like the adrenaline rush we get from playing beat the clock. In fact, some of us get so caught up in the insanity that we embellish it by having our cell phones, pagers, digital clocks and electronic organizers surgically implanted on our bodies. Come on, admit it, there’s a certain thrill that comes with living on the edge, but there is also a price.

The French philosopher Rene Descartes said, “I think therefore I am.” Our modern day version of this has become “I do therefore I am.” So many of us live by the mantra “I have to keep up,” “I am what I do,” “I have to push myself,” “I have to prove my worth,” “I have to keep going.” While many of you thought that you left peer pressure back in the halls of high school I have a surprise for you. It’s still very much in operation in our adult lives.

We’ve bought into the cultural norms for success, often without even realizing it. We seldom define for ourselves what it is we want. We just pile more and more on our already overflowing plates. And as long as you continue to subscribe to the philosophy that you are what you do you’ll be driven—you will continually try to prove yourself, please other people and live up to someone else’s standards. In other words, your life won’t be your own.

Stop and consider for a moment what would happen if you took the next available exit on the freeway of your life, pulled onto a quiet country lane, slowed down and reflected on your life. What would happen if you asked yourself, “Are you doing too much” “ Are you driven by societal and peer pressures?“ “Are you living the life you want to live?” As you ponder these questions you may discover that you want to make some changes. You may find that you need to reassess your priorities based on what you’ve determined is most meaningful in your life. You may decide that you need more balance, more time for yourself. You may realize that you have to take greater charge of where you invest your time and energy.

As you make these decisions, there will certainly be some tradeoffs. You will no longer be a contestant for America’s Most Frazzled. You may no longer be the woman who people marvel at for walking a tightrope while juggling a career, children, spouse, and family. In fact, friends who are still caught up in their “treadmill existence” might even think that you’ve “lost it.” But quite the contrary, what you’ve lost is a frenetic, driven, disconnected existence. What you will find is a greater connection with yourself and a saner, more satisfying way to live. And, I hope that you’ll agree that’s worth everything.