The great balancing act

So I’ve now finished my fourth book – unfortunately I’m not going to be able to keep up with reading books at this rate but I’m going to try to keep blogging regularly anyway! The main thing I’ve learnt from this book is that I’m not alone. Indecision affects so many people, and this book focuses particularly on women, whose freedom of choice hasn’t always been so great.

4. Compromise – you can’t have it allundecided book

(Undecided: how to ditch the endless quest for perfect and find the career and life that’s right for you, by Barbara Kelley and Shannon Kelley)

I’m discovering a lot of contradictions in my search for solutions. Settle for good enough, be content with what you have, versus follow your passion, keep searching for what’s right for you. Plan ahead, think about how you can fit in family plans with career plans, versus live in the present, not in the future. I guess it’s just a case of balancing all of these things.

Feminism is a significant part of this book, with a lot of discussion about how women’s lives have changed, from times not so long ago when the majority of women were (and were expected to be) housewives and mothers, to the present day when women seem to be expected to do it all, from having an amazing career to keeping up their appearance, looking after the kids and running the home (obviously this is a stereotype and there are a lot of men who are just as involved or even more so in bringing up children, cooking, washing, cleaning etc.).

I hadn’t realised how much of an issue gender equality still is. These authors argue, and I tend to agree, that the working week is designed to fit the lifestyles of men who have wives to go home to who take care of everything for them and have their dinner on the table. However this is no longer the case for most people, and both men and women want to be able to spend more time with their families and pursuing other interests and hobbies. It’s this whole idea of work-life balance (or work-life fit, as this book argues there really isn’t any balance – everything is a compromise and you always have to prioritise some things over others).

Some things I’ve taken from this book:

a) Let go of some dreams and hold on to those that are most important – If you can accept that you won’t be able to do everything, and choose a few things to focus on (at least for now), then you can let go of feeling you need to do it all.

b) Any kind of meaning or purpose, whether in or outside of work, can lead to contentment.

c) Remember that happiness isn’t as good as contentment. Happiness is short-lived and wears off; contentment is constant.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it. It’s written in a style almost similar to a blog, rambling narrative with lots of different examples and quotes thrown in, but I think that helps to make it interesting and easy to read. Essentially it says that there aren’t any real solutions – the key message is that you can’t have it all but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Compromise and contentment are both really positive.

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