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Work-Life Balance Is a Hoax

10/03/2013 02:59 pm ET | Updated Dec 03, 2013

I think the myth -- and it is a myth -- that working mothers (or women in general) can have daily work-life balance was created as a ruse to make us feel worse about our already impossible schedules. Entreprenuers seem to agree with me on this point.

WebMD, though, suggests to those struggling to find this magical place of balance: "build downtime into your schedule." That is a lovely sentiment, but the last thing that anyone looking to find "balance" needs is another item for their already impossible to-do lists.

The brilliant Sheryl Sandberg stated in her book, Lean In, "there's no such thing as work-life balance. There's work, there's life, and there's no balance."

I totally agree with Sandberg. I have leaned in. I graduated at the top of my business school class, and spent my 20s working seven days a week starting a company and raising venture capital.

I have leaned out.  In my 30s, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom to my then 5-year-old stepson. I went on to have two more kids, essentially dropping out of the working world for four years

Those experiences have taught me that if you are leaning too far either way, you are going to fall down.  In actuality, balance is a process of "being in" your life -- whatever it looks like -- and finding the support you need to enjoy each hectic day.

With four kids in the house, two small businesses and a husband who runs the largest investigative reporting non-profit in the nation, I take conference calls with the kids screaming in the background and I edit with SpongeBob blaring in my ear.<

Yes, I miss school events and when I make the school events, I miss meetings or deadlines. I check email over breakfast. And I definitely sleep and exercise less than I want to. Sometimes, I drink my coffee in the shower. A snapshot of my day would not provide anyone with an ideal picture of balance. 

But a snapshot of my life would be a whole different story.  It's not daily or even weekly balance that we should strive for. Instead, consider the whole picture of your life, and the people you have around you along the way. 

I built a vast array of friends and colleagues who support me on either side. Some days, I lean out and go on school field trips. Sometimes, I lean in and focus on work, even when my kids need something at that exact same moment. With the network of other women I have built through work and family life I know that either way I lean, I won't fall. 

So, if you really want balance, then "be in" your life and don't worry about balance or leaning one way or another. Work-life balance is not about doing yoga every day or getting the next promotion, it is about learning to enjoy imbalance and seeing the long view of your life.  Most importantly, it's about having the people there to support you when you need it. 

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.

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