Balance is a lie. Priorities are better.

by | Jan 21, 2018 | 8 comments

Category: Business | Inspiration

Balance sucks. I’m allowed to say that, because I am a Libra, and therefore know these things automatically. 

It sucks because striving for it never brings peace, and almost always brings pressure.

Balance brings pressure to be FaceTastic. Facebook + Fantastic = FaceTastic. AKA the highlight reel. AKA LIES.

This culture is convinced we need balance to be happy, calm, and focused.
Blog after blog after article after book: HOW TO ACHIEVE BALANCE.
In work, in life, in family. Whatever.

And it almost always comes with a photo of rocks. (WHY ROCKS? Rocks break toes when they fall, so why do we use Rock-Pictures!?)

Flat rocks stacked on top of each other.

Balance feels like juggling, sacrifice, and martyrdom. Balance feels like WORK.

From here on out, I declare balance a LIE.

From here on out, I’m going for PRIORITIES… and here’s why:

Priorities = taking responsibility for all of my choices.

Choice ownership is intentional living. Intentional living is fruitful, and powerful, and gets stuff done.

Listen, you can have it all. But you can’t have it all at the same time.* And we need to stop pretending we must or need to, or that there is some value in driving ourselves bat-sh*t crazy overwhelming ourselves. Like we are so awesome because we struggle to make it all fit in. Eyeroll.

We don’t need balance. We need boundaries and priorities.

There is a time to reap and a time to sow.

Even the earth knows you can’t do both at the same time.

Priorities look like this:

  • Making a schedule.
    • Put dinner prep on the calendar just as you would put a voice lesson.
  • Focusing on one thing at a time.
    • Example: Stop trying to parent and search for rep at the same time.
      • Try the “Special Time” or “10 Magical Moments” approach to the kiddos. (Thank you, Amanda A, for reminding me of this WONDERFUL way to prioritize!) Let kid time be kid time, and rep time be rep time.
    • Free yourself from the myth of multitasking. Come to terms with the fact that there is no such thing, and that you are really “task-switching” anyway. SO, you may as well do it effectively.
  • Saying “no” to things that do not further your goals for the day, or week, or month, or year.
    • Are you working to gain new clients? AWESOME. Say yes to seeing local HS Choir Concerts, NOT the National Tour coming through of Hamilton.
    • Are you writing a new e-guide for teachers? FABULOUS. Say yes to your computer grammar program and NO to FACEBOOK.
    • Are you needing more sleep in order to heal from an illness? DELICIOUS! Say yes to your bed, and NO to dishes and laundry.
  • Telling people, out loud, that something is or is not a priority for you.
    • “OH my goodness! This tragic thing that is happening to you right now is horrible! I am putting everything aside for you and making you a priority for the next 24 hours. How can I best be there for you?”
    • “The washing machine broke, and there’s water and soap everywhere. I will attend to that as my first priority, then I will be all yours, student texting me!”
    • “Honey, your homework is important to me, but not right now. I am writing an important email to a client. In five minutes I will focus on you.” (Set a timer, yo!)
    • “I understand that you need another volunteer to be available for NATS Auditions that weekend. NATS is not a priority right now for me and my studio.”
    • “NATS Conference is the most important thing for me on [insert date]. How can I best be of service?”

What if people…?

What if people get hurt and mad?: They may. And that is okay. Folks are allowed to feel any way they like, as are you. I feel hurt to find out I am not a priority. AT FIRST. But once I actually DO get focused on, I trust that I have their attention, and I’d rather have 2 minutes of undivided attention than a day of scattered half-importance.

What if people judge what I choose as my priorities?: Again, they may. And that is also okay, since your priorities do not have to be another person’s priorities. Everyone is different. Please be honest with yourself and others. If we run around trying to make other peoples’ comfort the way we prioritize, we will fail ourselves AND them.

What if people tell me I’m an ass, and they are right, because my priorities are JACKED?: I hope they do! How lucky you are to have people in your life that speak truth to you! We can’t live life floating along expecting things to be our way all the time. At least you’ve started a conversation and can have a REAL community and change/growth experience. You can ask my hubby, my kids, and my closest friends how often they need to remind me to RE-prioritise, and close the computer, or put down my phone; to remember what truly is important in that moment.

Reframing from balance to priorities isn’t easy.

As I mentioned, I fail at it often and get stuck in the cycle of “I should be doing/seeing/creating/focusing on…” I get distracted and frantic, unable to prioritize because I start thinking about “fitting it all in and balancing”. Give yourself a break. Don’t get bogged down by the whole “Get your priorities straight” and judging yourself.

It’s a work in progress, to be sure, and it’s a work that is worth it.

Let’s ditch the need to balance. Let’s be open and honest with what is important to us, even if it’s ugly and embarrassing in the moment, and work to prioritize our lives instead.

And now, I’ve got to go, because I hear my kiddos scream-fighting upstairs, and in this moment, they are my priority.


*This quote has been attributed to a lot of incredible humans (mostly women), like Madeline Albright, Oprah, Shonda Rhimes, Betty Frieden, Valerie Jarrett. I think this is worth mentioning, because men have to deal with this too. A discussing on gender expectation and how it manifests in work is not what this post is about. Anywho, I first heard this quote in an article by a female CEO in the tech industry  (it wasn’t Sheryl Sanders), but I could not find that article from 6 or so years ago. So you’ll just have to go with me here.

Michelle Markwart Deveaux

Michelle Markwart Deveaux (124)

As CEO of FaithCultureKiss Studios, LLC, I lead underestimated humans through the personal and professional development needed to create successful solo and team-based businesses.

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  1. Sarah Whitten

    The whole rocks as balance thing is bullsh*t. Balance like that is tenuous and the natural forces of life will knock it over. I arrived at liking the idea of being like a tree – grounded through extensive roots, striving in all directions for the best sunlight with which to grow, moving in response to the elements and communicating with trees around so a community is acknowledged and created and everyone flourishes.

    • Michelle Markwart Deveaux

      LOVE this image, Sarah! It’s beautiful ~ and so true. The rocks CAN be toppled. So delicate and precarious. But the tree! YES!

  2. Jessica Fielder

    YES to all of this!

  3. Kelly McCausey

    Amen & Yes, Yes, Yes! I’ve always been repelled by the balance myth. People who are trying to create the perfect balance end up frustrated and beat themselves up for failing.

    I’ve always preferred to make choices, pure and simple. What matters most right now, let’s do that.

    Priorities! You nailed it 🙂

    • Michelle Markwart Deveaux

      OH! Thank you so much, Kelly! This means a ton to me coming from you! We can only do our best, right? And be REAL about it!!!
      I need to ping you about the best way to go about tabling an event, actually!

  4. Karen

    Ahhhhhhhh is the sigh of relief you hear!! I’ve been thinking I’m a mess since *balance* for me is a tenuous thing and very personal! My goals are lofty and not always meant for public consumption so when I am *judged for some of my choices it can be tough. ???? My priorities are unique to me and what I want to accomplish, with and for my family and for my dreams and goals. ???????????? I love the rocks comment (that image, in that context, never made sense to me!) and Sarah’s tree imagery is just perfect. Thank you m, Michelle, for a lovely way to think through my Sunday. Yet again I am reminded how you are helping me make real change in thought and action. ????


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