Relaxing standards – how much is too much?

My mother is a sympathetic soul. When she sees me in the midst of my frenetic life, she often offers up this sage advice: “Maybe you should relax your standards a little.” Oh, if only she knew how far my standards have fallen!

For years I’ve told my kids, “You can be clean, clothed or fed – pick any two.”

As a high-achieving sort , I hit adulthood thinking I could accomplish anything I wanted. It was the 80’s after all – wasn’t that what we were told? I hit my first brick wall with a job that required 100% travel. Life on the road definitely limited my options. There were some weekends where I felt like all I did was unpack my suitcase, do my laundry, repack it again and leave for the airport.

It hasn’t improved over the years. I am now a self-employed mother of three with a husband who frequently travels for work. Talk about relaxing your standards! There are days I arrive at appointments and check to make sure I’m completely dressed before I go in. And days where I can’t even think about the evening activities in the morning – I operate with a view to about the next 20 minutes of my day.

Like many others, I’ve spent time exploring (the myth that is) life balance. And like many others, the challenge for me continues to be letting the little things go to focus on the big things. I’m somewhat coachable, so with the help of others, I’ve worked to identify my core values and in my personal life, I do adhere pretty well to those:

  • Exercise and take care of my health
  • Feed my family good, wholesome food 90% of the time (the other 10% of the time I look the other way while they eat a hot dog at the ballpark)
  • Experience things with my kids, even if it means a whole day at a museum in the midst of a project, or a two-week driving vacation neither my husband nor I really have time to take

Oh, and I’m big on sleep. I seldom burn the midnight oil.

It’s harder in my business. I complete client work, and get the little tasks out of the way but never seem to get to the big, important ones like  revising my website or upgrading my technology. It’s not that I’m avoiding the big tasks, it’s that the little tasks seem to be all I have time for. But I have gotten better about two things – saying no and asking for help, neither of which comes very naturally.

So here I am racing toward the end of another busy week. It’s a beautiful day, I have a ton of work to do, and my house is a mess. I need to cobble together something my family can eat for a dinner on the run, iron a shirt for a piano recital, reschedule a weekend appointment, perhaps tackle a few of the items on my endless to-do list. Which standards should I relax today?

Is life balance a myth? Post your comments or send them to – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.

4 thoughts on “Relaxing standards – how much is too much?

    1. Thank you, Siri. it’s nice to have permission! If I head outside I can’t even see the inside of my house, can I? Time to move my work out to the porch.


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