Is Balance The New Guilty?


Earlier this year I sat in a grand old ballroom, soaking in the inspiration from a conference that shifted my perception on many things that I thought were steadfast in my life. As I scrawled more and more notes into my notebook I felt a sense of relief start to shift and in an enlightened moment I decided I’m so done with feeling guilty.

Boom – done – just like that! The juggle that is a marriage, children, a career and the general sense of doing it all – comes neatly wrapped up in a fancy bow of guilt. Sitting heavy in my stomach, guilt twisting over each day, I did not want to live this way anymore. So I traded guilt in for feeling empowered instead and the change in mindset felt – so good!

In the weeks that followed the guilt slowly eased. I felt energised by my day. But then, ever so slowly, something else started to creep in. While the guilt was disappearing, the juggle was certainly still there and I found myself in a constant battle to find balance. Trying to do one thing and then another and somehow keep all the balls in the air. It almost felt like I was walking a tightrope for most of my day, arms outstretched, not daring to look down, looking straight ahead and concentrating ever so hard to get to the end. That’s when it hit me, is balance the new guilty?

There seems to be nowhere to hide from the work-life balance. Everywhere you turn, it is there. In our social media, news articles, endless books all offering opportunities to get the balance right. The scientist in me cannot help but wonder about the idea of balance and finding that equilibrium: that both sides of the equation directly affect each other.

Well this certainly felt true in my life. In trying to balance if I spent more time on one thing, I did feel that it was at a cost of time to something else. Now while I wasn’t feeling guilty over this, I certainly wasn’t feeling great about it either.

I’m really into Danielle LaPorte lately and one morning one of her inspirations quotes appeared on my social media feed “If you want to do great things, striving for balance is a losing game.” There it was again – boom – the realisation that I don’t need balance either.

Maybe it is mercury in retrograde, surely it can’t be a mid-life crisis, but I am no longer holding onto things that weigh me down. Letting go is not only exhilarating, it has become a necessity. I seek to live in the moment and be strong enough to strive for change if it is not working. I only have one life and in that life I strive to do and be many things. But I will not be weighed down in a balancing act of trying to juggle it all.

Snuggled up in bed late one night, hubby and I were chatting about the dynamics of this work life balance when he turned to me in his midnight wisdom and said, it is as if you are trying to fill water from the well: you have ten buckets, each time you try and put a little bit of water in each bucket and then try and carry more than one bucket. Not only is it hard, it is also not the best way to fill water from that well. How about you just stick to one bucket?

One bucket – that works for me.

Do you strive for balance? Does trying to get balance make you stressed?


  • Tamsin Howse

    You’re so right! For me it feeds into the notion that we can “have it all”, a successful career, a family, friends, a social life, and manage to have it all well and be happy and relaxed. I just don’t think that’s achievable. Not without lowering some of your expectations and letting some things slide – maybe not the highest job, but a job that’s enough. Maybe the house doesn’t need to be clean or you don’t need to be on top of your washing. Maybe only seeing one friend per weekend instead of trying to fit in 3 different engagements every day. Something’s got to give.

    • always Josefa

      I think expectation has quite a lot to answer for, I think we have a lot to answer for really. Slowing down, doing less, being in the moment and actually letting the balls drop may do all of us more good than we think xx

  • Kylie Purtell, A Study in Cont

    Great post Josefa, and definitely spot on the money. I’ve been thinking about this lately too, and realising that it’s just not possible to balance everything. I’ve slowly been trying to let go of things that really aren’t that important in order to make more time for the things that are – my family, my friends, creating my dream WAH career. Everything else (especially the cleaning!) can wait!

    • always Josefa

      Oh the cleaning can always wait Kylie! Cleaning is so overrated anyway, especially when school holidays are upon us! I really am trying to stop balancing anything, and just be in the moment, enjoy it, savour it and move on to the next one – whatever it may be xx

  • Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    Funnily enough I’m writing about balance on the blog again tomorrow. Eeek.. Now I feel really nervous about you reading it. Balance is something I strive for and yes it is something that stresses me out. As Tasmin highlighted below, it does stem from the notion that we can have it all. I am learning to not be so hard on myself and understand that at times some aspects of my life need more attention than others. For example, I have taken two days leave off work this week as I feel the balance is not right for me and I need to recoup and recharge. It is a constant juggling act for me, but I find that if I tell myself everyone is juggling too and I’m no different to anyone else then I feel better about things.

    • always Josefa

      Renee, I think you taking two days off work is….crazy awesome! You need to do what works for you and even though you are worried about the juggling act of your balance – you have taken steps to do something about it – that in itself is huge. Plus your girls are just so little, I think it is almost impossible to get through those early years without feeling like you are juggling it all. Once your little ladies start to gain a little more independence you may find that the juggle becomes less and that things will change, not just for them, but for you.

      PS I loved your post today – never feel nervous about me reading your beautiful words xx

      • Tamsin Howse

        You guys inspired me! I just put in for 2 days leave.

        • always Josefa

          Tamsin that is awesome! just awesome! I want to see instagram photos of feet up and a whole lot of relaxing happening over those two days xx

          • Tamsin Howse

            It’s this Thursday and next Friday. Expect to see lavish breakfasts with the Viking and cups of tea and television!

  • Zanni Louise

    It was definitely a theme at the High Tea on the weekend, Josefa. I think balance is subjective to everyone. What one person can cope with, another can’t. Some people can handle oodles of stuff, and another person just needs a couple of things on their plate to feel overwhelmed. The important thing is having perspective…My god mother who spoke at the event, who has 30 years as Artistic Director of a successful business, impressed on us young mothers not to feel guilty. It’s okay to be a busy productive person if that’s your calling. Your children will absorb this about you, and learn from your organisation skills, your productivity and your passion. And this is okay! If they feel loved, they will survive and even thrive if their mum is busy and passionate and productive. And if you are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself permission to step back, switch off and focus on one tiny thing at a time. x

    • always Josefa

      Zanni, I just love this. That perspective is spot on. I really appreciate your god mothers words of wisdom. Yet, it also makes me wonder (and perhaps feel a little sad) how did this generation get to this place in their life in the first place? Gosh it almost seems blaring and obvious when it is written down on paper (or in this case on the internet) and then so many of us still struggle with this in our everyday life? I wish I was at that high tea more and more now xx

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