In late October and early November of last year, I wrote a two-part article for Women in Business about life lessons I have learned so far; things we are not taught in school. I thoroughly enjoyed it so when the opportunity arose for me to write more regularly as a columnist for the Bermuda Sun, I jumped at the chance! 

Over the last several months, I have enjoyed reading about the search for happiness, struggling for work-life balance and other related topics. This column gives me the opportunity to explore in more detail some of the life lessons I mentioned previously and to share new ideas I have picked up along the way. The same disclaimer applies: I am still learning, the points I refer to are based solely on my experience (everyone’s experiences differ) and most importantly, although I believe these ideas to be important, I do stray sometimes (I am human)!

If I’m going to write a column about ‘Striving for Balance’, I better outline what I mean by ‘balance’. I struggled with the title of this column for the past few weeks because the word ‘balance’ bothered me. 

Perfection

It seemed to me to imply a perfect split- 50/50 — between work and everything else. 

To me, this ‘perfection’ is not attainable because although one might achieve this split for a moment, life will inevitably throw a curveball shattering the perfection of your balance to pieces. I like to strive for attainable goals, so this notion of balance doesn’t work for me. 

I think many people would have a tough time defining balance, but we all know when we don’t have it! Feelings of guilt, feeling that we are neglecting some aspect of our lives, feeling overwhelmed by all that we are trying to achieve, or feeling physically rundown are all the telltale signs that we are out of balance. So, what does it mean to have balance or to be in balance? Well, after some reading and reflection, I am more comfortable with the word because I have a different understanding now of what it means. 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines balance in a number of ways, but the phrases I found most useful are: “mental or emotional stability”, “a counteracting weight or force” or, as a verb, to “put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall”. Isn’t that what we are all really striving for with balance in our lives: for stability and to keep things from falling?

Different

Balance is, in my view, entirely subjective. What balance is varies from one person to the next. Each of our lives looks different and has different requirements. It is really about fulfillment and you don’t get much more subjective than that! The question you have to ask yourself is: what elements are required in my daily life for me to feel fulfilled? This requires inward reflection and consideration of what is important to you. There are so many things in our lives that we cannot control - things that come up at work, our child getting sick, etc. It’s more about finding a sense of balance within. 

Balance is fluid and ever changing just like our lives. It is about being able to weather life’s storms and ride life’s waves. There will be ebbs and flows and balance is about staying afloat whilst holding firm to those things that bring you fulfillment. Your ideas of balance will inevitably change over time.

The question therefore ultimately is: what is YOUR balance? 

Jennifer Haworth is an associate with MJM Limited’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Team (www.mjm.bm). She is married and has a daughter. To send your comments or thoughts write to Jennifer at jhaworth@mjm.bm