Unbalanced on Purpose

If the title of this blog looked familiar it’s because there is a book out there by this title.  I recently had the privilege of hearing the author speak and given the time of year the idea of never being able to achieve balance really hit home.  For those of us in the reporting world with calendar year-ends our busy time is upon us.  Our tax brethren are waiting for the numbers before they start up in earnest and the budget people are taking a slight breather before they start working on updated forecasts and projections and if you are in a small business with a small finance staff you are probably doing or at least coordinating all of these efforts.  The point is, no matter what you do there are times that are busier than others.

In this world, the idea of constant compartmentalized balance – work gets 50 hours a week, family 40, God 5 and personal interests 15 – is a fantasy that sets you up for failure.  The reality is that your life is always unbalanced.  Sometimes family gets priority – can we say vacation?  Sometimes it’s the church and sometimes you get to steal a few extra hours for that personal interest – like watching LSU get destroyed in football – and sometimes, maybe more often then the others, its work that gets extra hours.  Whatever it is, life is never in balance. 

I find this perspective truly refreshing and liberating.  Refreshing because it is so contrary to the accepted “people of have balance in life are happier” mentality that is such an urban legend these days.  Liberating, because as soon as you stop trying to achieve perfect balance you can stop feeling guilty about never getting it done in the first place. 

But if we stop trying to achieve balance, what is it we should try to achieve.  That answer will be different for each person.  There are lots of answers and none of them are wrong (and none of them a right for everyone).  The first priority is to earn enough money to provide the basics – food, clothing, shelter – after that it’s up for grabs.  Maybe your desire is to be CFO, maybe your desire is to have a work schedule that allows you to see the kids off to school and be at home when they return, and maybe your desire is to set the all time record score for angry birds.  Whatever it is is up to you.

The great thing about being a CPA is that our profession has such a diversity of opportunities in ways to earn a living that you can fit a work schedule to just about any unbalanced life you want.   Even better, our profession is great at allowing you to change the way you are unbalanced at different times during the year as well as different times during your career.  So my advice is to lose the guilt, stop trying to achieve balance and really think about where you want to unbalance your life.  You may have to make changes in your life and your job to get there, but as a CPA, you have a better than average shot at actually being able to do it.

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