Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To BE (Balanced) or Not to BE (Balanced)

Lifestyle management, or being resilient, requires a balancing act and the juggling of a lot of priorities. For many years, I quite liked the concept of work/life balance. Watching other professionals who seemed to have it together and were living what appeared to be fairly stress-free lives, I noticed that balance wasn’t necessarily what they had achieved. I still got emails from them at ridiculous times of the morning or night, saw them at meetings in the evening when other people were home with their families, and I knew how much they had on their plate.

Sue is a great example. She is a hard worker, and has a lot on her plate in terms of work responsibilities and family commitments, including two small children. She is actively involved in her community and plays soccer. Sue really has IT going on. She never seems frazzled, always has a healthy energy, and doesn’t rush. One day I asked her, “How do you balance it all?”

“I don’t!” said Sue as she looked at me and smiled, obviously awaiting my next comment or question.

“You don’t?” I asked, trying to mask my surprise. “How do you manage? You never seem flustered or stressed, yet you have more on the go than many people I know.”

“I discovered a long time ago that I can’t balance my life. It is difficult for me to share my time equally between work, family and the many other areas of my life. That would cause me a great deal of stress,” explained Sue.

Now I was curious. If she didn’t practice work/life balance, how could she be this successful and easy going?

“So what is the secret?”

Work life balance isn’t the answer for me. I strive for work/life harmony.”

I leaned in, not wanting to miss one single detail of Sue’s response. “What do you see as the difference between work/life balance and work/life harmony, Sue?”

Smiling, Sue replied, “Work/life harmony is more about me putting my time and energy into the different priorities in my life in a way that I don’t feel like I am compromising one area for another.”

It is a fine difference in the concepts, and for different reasons, the concept of work/life harmony seemed a better fit for me.

This is an excerpt from my book Bounce Forward.

What analogy works for you? Balance? Harmony? Why?
Here are a few quick tips on work life harmony, with more to come in the next blog.

- Set three urgent/big/necessity priorities each day, and tackle these before anything else.

- Listen to your language and thoughts. Do you catch yourself saying/thinking “I am SO Tired” or “Today was a day of expending energy on what mattered”. Do you say/think “I’m the only one pulling my weight here” or do you say/think “I gave more than my 100% today”. When you focus on being tired, doing it all, or blame, your energy will quickly disappear. When you focus on energy, abundance and what you accomplished your energy increases.

- Learn to say “no”. Sometimes you have to set boundaries, and that can require you to say “no”. Often people say “yes” because they are uncomfortable saying no, and then they feel resentful. Nothing zaps your energy and resilience more than this.

- Remember the SEWS (sunshine, exercise, water, sleep), the basics of creating harmony.

To read more about this topic, follow the blog, or you can order a copy of Bounce Forward (the book or the soon to be released audio book) by emailing for your signed copy.

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