A Sense of Obligation

July 13, 2009

I had lunch today with a very good friend of mine who is starting to plan her wedding.  She is very excited but also paralyzed by a sense of obligation to have the “right” kind of wedding.  What she really wants is a very small event with just close family and a few friends, but she has this feeling that she is obligated to do something bigger and more traditional.

As we talked about it and I argued that it is more important to have the right wedding for them- a small gathering with fried chicken and ribs- than it is to invite the cousins you barely know and colleagues you don’t really like, I realized that these feelings of guilt and obligation that she was describing are very similar to the feelings I get about working/life balance.

Many of us, I think, are often so focused on our intention to do what is “right,” that we are unable to do what is right for us.  While I am not a fan of the overly entitled, “it is all about me” attitude that is on the other side of the spectrum, I do think that part of becoming a true grown up is learning how to balance obligations and what feels right, especially when those two things don’t coincide.

I was just approached about doing a very large project for one of my clients.  While this is exciting, I am also aware of the fact that it would mean a lot more struggles in terms of work/life balance.  It means figuring out how much I can honestly take on and also how much I am willing to commit to, given my desire to be present for the little one and working at the same time.

So here comes the challenge of practicing what I preach and making sure I figure out that balance from the outset…

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