What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently
When you search your life for strong-moments, you don't always like what you find. In the words of one of the interviewees: "It's hard to admit, but I don't like playing with my kids. My daughter would come up to me and say, 'Mom, you play the mommy, and I'll play the baby,' and I would think: 'Not again. I am the mommy, you are the baby.' The moments I love with my kids are when I'm teaching them something, helping them learn, but I'm bored silly by playing another game of dress up. I got my life back on track only when I rejected the idea of being the 'perfect' mother and accepted the reality of which moments energized me and which didn't."
Acceptance doesn't mean resignation, giving up on your dreams. In fact, more often than not, accepting which moments strengthen you and which don't reveals to you exactly how you can live out your dreams, whether at home or at work. It means not only being comfortable in your own skin, but also being creative in your own skin.
Strive for Imbalance
When someone tells you to try to have greater balance in your life, your immediate and appropriate reaction is a spasm of disbelief. "Balance?" you ask yourself. "How does that work? For every extra hour at work find another hour at home? For every extra kid at home, reduce my workload by exactly the amount my new child requires? For every school play I should attend, cut out a presentation on the road? For everything I say yes to, say no to something else? Is that it?"
Not according to the people we interviewed. They didn't talk about balance much at all. They seemed to realize that not only was a perfect equilibrium nigh on impossible to achieve, but also that even if they did manage to achieve it, it wouldn't necessarily fulfill them anyway—when you are balanced, you are stationary, holding your breath, trying not to let any sudden twitch or jerk pull you too far one way or the other. You are at a standstill. Balance is the wrong life goal.
Instead, do as these women did and strive for imbalance. Pinpoint the strong-moments in each aspect of your life and then gradually target or tilt your life toward them. This means being as deliberate as you can about making them happen. It means investigating them when they do happen, looking at them from new perspectives, and celebrating them. Above all, it means giving them the power of your attention.
Learn to Say Yes
So often you are told: "You must learn to say no." But, to live your strongest life, do the opposite. Learn to say yes. Yes, to the strong-moments in each part of your life. Yes, to the people who help you create these moments. Yes, to your feelings as these moments happen. Say yes with enough focus and force, and yours will not be a balanced life, but it will be a full life.