Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls– family, health, friends, integrity — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.
~ Gary Keller
The subject of work life balance was a hot topic at a luncheon I recently attended. We discussed whether or not there even is such a thing.
The main roadblocks to creating work life balance that came up as we went around the table were these:
- Not setting boundaries around what matters most
- Difficulty saying “no” to the important people in your life
- Making other people’s priorities more important than yours
- Not wanting to disappoint or let others down
Who’s Life are You Balancing?
If any of these roadblocks resonate with you, it may be because you have fallen into the pattern of giving your precious time and energy away to other people’s agendas. You may be trying to be all things to all people rather than being true to what matters most – to you. Thanks to you, their lives may be balanced while yours is spinning out of control!
Maybe It’s Time for a Reality Check
As you read this, you may be thinking how selfish it would be to put your needs ahead of the people you care about. But is it really?
If you are living an exhausted, resentful, overburdened life, maybe it’s time for a reality check. Work life balance isn’t about having equal amounts of time for everything. That’s ridiculous when you stop to think about it. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to divide the pie up evenly.
The bad joke is that we continue to try, thinking that happiness lies in the achievement of perfect balance. We tie ourselves up in knots trying to do it. We get so busy and stressed out supporting everyone else’s needs that we end up not being much good to anyone, especially to ourselves.
Where are You Dropping the Ball?
Where you drop the ball is by trying to meet everyone else’s expectations. You get distracted from your own priorities. You forget to honor yourself and before long, you end up feeling overwhelmed, harassed and de-energized rather than fulfilled, loving, and generous.
Without realizing it, you might be surrendering your own needs to look “good” in the eyes of others. No, you are not doing so intentionally. Of course you want to be the “good” parent, spouse, friend, son or daughter, employee, or boss. It only becomes an issue when you find yourself getting overextended.
It’s Time to Make a Different Choice
Your life is sacred. Your time is sacred. Stop thinking about work life balance and start thinking about integrity. When you live your life with integrity, work life balance becomes a non-issue.
Integrity is about more than just keeping promises. It’s about getting in touch with your inner knowing and putting clear and focused attention what matters most to you, honoring it, and taking a stand for it.
What choices would you make if you believed that to be true?
Would you stay at a job you hate? Would you spend time in a relationship where you are not adored, or in friendships with people who drain you? Would you disrespect the body your spirit lives in?
Integrity Takes Courage
It takes courage to shift from making everyone else’s agenda your top priority to honoring your own. It will take time. Don’t give up if you experience a few bumps in the road.
Here is an exercise you can do to begin:
- Take a time out and go to a quiet place – beach, park, your own back yard.
- Take a notebook or journal with you.
- Think about the most important roles in your life matter – are you a spouse, parent, career or business person, sibling, friend, son or daughter, etc.?
- Pretend it’s your 100th birthday and you are being honored and celebrated. Everyone you love is there, toasting and celebrating you.
- Ask one person from each role you chose to toast and celebrate you. What would you love to hear them say about you?
- Write a short paragraph of their answers. Write as if they are saying everything you always wanted to hear.
Review what each person said. You will likely start to see patterns and themes. Circle them.
Finding the themes will start to give you insight into what you value. From there, you will see new choices that will take you from worrying about achieving work life balance to living an authentic life of integrity. And that’s pretty darn sexy!