Work-life balance is messy, but so is trying to reach some fixed standard of work-life perfection. With "The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe For Success and Satisfaction", Samantha Ettus guides readers away from trying to maintain a work-life balance "like the Joneses" and into a realistic way that can help you navigate the perfectly planned days and the days where everything that could go wrong goes wrong.
Work-life balance is a concept that always seems easier to think about than implement. Most, at some point in time, try to “balance” professional and personal lives to reach some invisible standard. Read articles about business executives and experts who juggle multiple jobs, a happy family, and a strong presence in the community. After secretly wishing you had their lives, you go back to your already time-squeezed lives and wonder, “Is work-life balance even for me?”
What is The Pie Life About?
“This is the life you were meant to live. It’s the delicious and nurturing life that you deserve”
– – “The Pie Life”
The Pie Life focuses squarely on work-life balance from a woman’s perspective, although the principles can be applied to anyone. Author Samantha Ettus argues that finding a better work-life balance isn’t a matter of finding the right plan or program. It’s a matter of changing the script that there is a perfect work-life balance. Ettus believes that women, in particular, have been negatively impacted by this belief in a perfect work-life balance. Women are praised when they have it all together, the professional career and happy home, and shamed when they don’t. This shame comes from society and from the individual.
The Pie Life wants women to break free of that shame. The book begins emphatically by stating that women shouldn’t feel pressured to choose to work over family or vice-versa. They can have both. In fact, Ettus reasons, they should. A woman who decides to wait until her children reach a certain age can delay her career development when she is ready to enter the workforce. A woman who tries to overcompensate for her lack of quality time with family actually reinforces the underlying guilt.
Instead of all this pressure, Ettus is calling readers to step outside of that pressure and guilt by embracing four key principles:
- Understand that work-life balance doesn’t have fixed lines.
- Work-life balance is bigger than work and family. It’s about your whole life.
- Develop lines of communication and support for emergencies.
- Enjoy the time you can offer, whether it’s twenty minutes to two hours
Embracing this flexible concept of work-life balance is the key to actually embracing the messiness that is everyone’s reality.
Ettus, as it happens, is a work-life balance expert, author, and speaker who graduated with an MBA degree from Harvard and started in the media industry. After leaving the media, she developed a personal branding firm but quickly recognized that the quest for a fixed work-life balance wasn’t actually leading anywhere. Her new work to help people actually reach that ideal was a response.
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What Was Best About The Pie Life?
The best part of The Pie Life is the way it totally upends the concepts of work-life balance — particularly that work-life balance is a fixed standard attainable by other people. In reality, we’re all struggling with work-life balance and Ettus shows that with examples from her own life and the lives of other professional women. She also points to the guilt that many professional women (and men) face while trying to balance family and work life away from home. This guilt, an important factor in work-life balance, isn’t discussed as much as it should.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
The Pie Life expands the work-life balance conversation beyond standards and into reality. The solution goes in the right direction but is still a little vague. The “pie”, suggested by the author, helps readers identify how they are spending their time but it doesn’t drill down to daily actions. To give an example, the book will help a reader identify the top “slices” that a reader wants to focus on, but it leaves the readers to prioritize what activities to do for that “slice”.
Why Read The Pie Life?
As shared above, The Pie Life is a flexible and more realistic approach to work-life balance. The book expands the definition from a fixed standard of “work hours” versus “non-work” into something more proactive. Work-life balance is how professional people balance everything in their lives from their child’s PTA meetings to the employee softball game to the doctor’s appointments. Understanding this new definition of work-life balance and breaking free of the guilt of the messiness of it all is the most powerful message of the book. If you are seeking a way to embrace (rather than run from) the messiness of work-life balance, The Pie Life can help you address the underlying guilt and develop a path toward a work-life balance that works for your life.