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Michelle Obama struggles with work/life balance

Today, Miami forensic psychologist Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter who specializes in burnout issues in high achieving women, weighs on the Work/Life Balancing Act blog with her thoughts on Michelle Obama's commitment to work/life balance issues.

   Sherrie    I, for one, was as happy as could be to hear early on in the presidential campaign that Michelle Obama planned to make work life balance issues a national priorityif she and her husband became the "first family." I mean, who among us would be harmed by a little more national attention on achieving more balance into these hectic and overscheduled lives we lead? And who has a stronger platform than Michelle Obama now that she has made it to the White House? So now that she's settling in, I decided to do a little research into what her specific plans are for accomplishing this goal. In fact, I thought it would be a good topic for starting off  the new high-achievingwoman.com blog. What will Michelle's national work life balance agenda look like? I had it all planned out ... 

But then, as I was doing my "research," I came across a blog Michelle wrote on BlogHer not more than a few months ago, and my perfectly good plan suddenly changed as I read: "The work-life balance is something I think about a lot. I’ve struggled for so many years to get it right, and I still haven’t figured it out. Too often, when I’m with the kids, I feel like I’m shortchanging work. And when I’m at work… or these days, on the campaign trail… I feel like I’m shortchanging the kids. For many years, I felt a lot of guilt—and I still do, though it’s better now."

Did she just say that she has struggled for so many years to "get it right" and still hasn't figured "it" out? It made me think. If Michelle Obama, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, mother of two, and now our country's top high-achieving woman (sorry, I'm not all that fond of the term, "first lady") - if she can't figure out how to "get it right" as far as balancing work and life, what real chances do we have? Not to say, of course, that any of us are two cents waiting for change compared to her, but come on - her "got my act together" resume is nothing to sneeze at.

Which brings me to my question and my point - With all the balls that we high-performance women juggle for as long as we have been juggling them, is it realistic to expect ourselves to "get it right?" Why is that script even in our heads? Is that a reasonable goal? I don't think so, but more importantly, I think there's a danger in thinking, as we high-achievers so often do, that accomplishing anything less than "getting it right," anything less than perfection is failure.
 
 I mean, answer truthfully - how many of you, who are juggling careers and families and community involvement and volunteer hours and all the other things that somehow get deposited on your plates, can honestly say you've got it exactly right? How many of you can say that when you're spending time with the kids or the family, you don't hear that little perfection monster on your shoulder reminding you of that stack of work on your desk? Or vice-versa? 

My point is - I don't think "getting it right" should be where we set the bar. Sometimes good enough is just right.
 




 

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Elise Jones

True, there is no nirvana in terms of doing it all in every angle of our lives all at once. In addition to setting the bar in a realistic place at any one point in time is considering the integration of work and life we seek across life stages. To feel at peace with where we are right now, we may need to put something on the back burner temporarily, knowing that a coming life stage will bring the time and energy needed to achieve there without jeopardizing our dedication to the opportunities before us at the moment.

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