The Balance Delusion

Erin E. Rhinehart, a managing editor of TYL, practices with Faruki Ireland & Cox PLL in Dayton, OH.

Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason. If Ms. Justice was forced to witness everything that she must balance, she would drop those scales and run. She is deluding herself. And really, to some degree, aren't we all wearing blindfolds? Isn't delusion necessary to find, and maintain, that elusive "balance" for which we all strive?

Let's get real. There is no such thing as balance. At least not balance in the sense that everything, 100 percent of the time, is in complete equipoise. Balance is a personal decision. To find and maintain any sense of sanity, the idea (and ideal) of balance must be tossed aside.

As lawyers, we are expected to put our clients first, and be available 24/7. As mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters, we are expected to put our family first, and be available 24/7. This leaves little room for anything else. This is the impossible dream for which we all strive, to be everything to everyone all the time—and to do it flawlessly, no less! We set ourselves up to fail. It is time to redefine balance. But how?

This is the best part. Balance can mean whatever the heck you want it to mean—and only you get to judge whether you have it or not. 

For me, redefining balance is a process. I'm still trying to figure it out; unfortunately, it tends to change daily. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to learn how to set boundaries, to learn to say "no." As a young associate, this was more difficult. But, as I earned my stripes, so-to-speak, I was granted more control over my time and my career choices. It isn't necessarily easier to say "no" now, but it has become a more viable option. I am better equipped to evaluate which opportunities to decline and which opportunities are worth the extra hours.

Figure out what is important to you, prioritize, and execute. Of course, this is easier said than done because most of us really aren't that sure what it is that we really want to do. As you sit back and think about how to redefine balance for yourself, consider the famous question posed by Robert H. Schuller, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" Perhaps your answer will help you remove your own blindfold.


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