More and more people in the meeting industry are reevaluating their careers as just one element in an overall balance in their lives. Unfortunately, society places high demands on all of us. If you achieve a “high-level” position, expectations are that you will:

  • Multitask 24/7
  • Function at 150 percent capacity at home
  • Function at 200 percent capacity at work
  • Forget about your hobbies, dreams, and the kids
  • Delay those medical appointments
  • Limit yourself to five hours of sleep — when your body and mind really require seven or eight
  • Believe that a quick donut at 11:30 a.m. will suffice for lunch until a late dinner at 8 p.m.

Here's how some of my colleagues and friends opted to deal with these expectations and achieve balance within their lives:

  • Gary made the decision to quit his job, open a small business in his home, and be a “stay-at-home dad,” while his wife Judy went to work.
  • Vickie married for the first time at 46 and is having her first child. She has left her association career to stay at home and raise her child.
  • Mike left a fabulous corporate position and decided to co-author a book with his wife on their favorite hobby, fly-fishing. They also moved to Vermont to begin teaching fishing clinics.
  • Pattie decided to focus on her corporate career, stay single, and not have children.

As for myself, in 1997 I left New York and my 14-year career in school administration and moved to Vermont, taking a two-year leave of absence. After that I moved back home to Chicago to start my company in this industry. This is balance for me. As Rosalind Russell says in the 1959 film classic Auntie Mame, “Live! Live! Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers starve to death.”

Michele C. Wierzgac, CMM, is the CEO of Michele & Company, an event planning company located in Oak Lawn, Ill.