Why You Are Failing At Work-Life Balance

Photo by Mislav Marohnić Flickr

A Balanced Life is a Myth

I went for a two hour walk today. That means that there were a lot of things that did not get done. While I was walking I was listening to an audiobook my sister recommended entitled “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. Although, this book was not written specifically for women (in fact it is very popular in business circles amongst entrepreneurs), I think it has huge implications for womanhood and feminism. The book was simple, straight to the point, and surprisingly common sense. So common sense, in fact, that it was the epitome of the cliché that “common sense is not so common”. It said everything I have always thought, but have never been able to put into words and contained lots of surprisingly practical advice. This best-kept secret of productivity that Mr. Keller spoke about can be summed up into three words “the one thing”.

The One Thing

“The One thing” is a complicated yet simple idea that says (in entirely too simple words) that you can’t have it all. You have to choose. The book debunks myths like “the multi-tasking myth” and “the balanced life” myth, and explains to us that in order to be most effective in life we need to narrow down our focus. This probably sounds terribly limiting, but it’s actually not when you fully understand it. It is actually extremely freeing. In fact, as I listened to the audiobook, I got excited thinking about all the tedious and time-wasting tasks I hope to eliminate from my life to get down to the one thing.

dominos getting progressively larger
credit: the1thing.com

The Domino Effect

One of the first illustrations Keller described in the book was how a single domino can cause a ripple effect that knocks down a slew of other dominoes in succession. He then went on to discuss how a researcher found that a single domino can knock down a domino twice its size and that when the bigger domino does the same to another twice its own size and this pattern repeats, by the 57th domino, we’re knocking down a domino that reaches the moon!
This interesting narrative depicts the power of a small action having large effects. People in business often talk of the Pareto effect which states that 80 percent of all results come from 20 percent of all actions. What Keller is saying with the domino effect is that a person can narrow down their actions to a single action that by doing so it will make all other actions easier or unnecessary.

Why Women Need to Stop Competing With Men

At the end of the day, this has huge implications for women and feminism. Modern feminism pushes women to want to achieve more and more and multi-task and do EVERYTHING men are doing. The problem with this is that when your goal is to out-perform someone whose circumstances are not compatible with your own, you end up not doing what is best for yourself. As I said when I started this article, when you make a choice to do something, other things do not get done.

The One Thing Women Should Do


credit: the1thing.com
credit: the1thing.com

After listening to most of the book (I’m about 75 percent done), I have decided to cut a lot of the crazier things out of my life. Crazy goals, that while interesting, are ultimately meaningless to my quality of life; and crazy people, who waste my time and drive me to unproductive and unhealthy activities or just overall want to use me. Over a year ago, I completely stopped watching television, but I think that in order to become even more productive I need to cut out excessive internet activities as well. With all that being cut out, I should have more time for practicing cooking, spending time with family and achieving that one big impactful goal that is most meaningful to me. Keller says that everyone can begin by asking themselves one very important question: What is the one thing you can do right now that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? This question is a great place to start (and the book is a great place to continue), but as you begin to go down this rabbit hole, be prepared to let things go including your ego, pride, sense of entitlement and selfishness. Hopefully, it will lead you to at the end of your life having let go of the one thing most people cringe over: regret.

The fact of the matter is, the more you try to do, the less you get done. If you try to be a superwoman who sweeps up in the board room, your personal relationships will most likely suffer (and vice versa). So, my recommendation is sit down with yourself and figure out the one thing that would make your life meaningful. What is the one thing that will make your toil worth it in the end? Continue asking yourself, “what’s my one thing today?” I really believe that this little change will transform the quality of your entire life.

What’s your one thing?

Read Next: Feminist Lies: The Myth of Gender Equality and The Working Woman

Author: African Femininity

African Femininity is a first generation American-born Nigerian. That basically means, her parents were immigrants and raised her with a mix of selective cultural values from both traditions. Needless to say, this left her with a very dissonant understanding of what being a “lady” meant. Now, as an un-married 30 year old woman, she is on a mission to delve to the root of being a woman in a world where conflicting cultural values and traditions are leaving many confused and disillusioned. She use the power of the pen to defend a woman’s right to choose her own lifestyle: be it housewife, social climber or being conventionally employed. Check out her Amazon author page for books written by her at http://amazon.com/author/shadowjackson

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  1. You say you use your pen to defend the right of a woman to choose her lifestyle, but I’m not seeing that in your posts. How many years ago did you make that profile? Or are you another one of those women who are insecure and defensive about the life they choose and use “defending the right of a woman to choose” only to defend the right of a woman to choose the life YOU want?

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