Work/Life Balance: A Juggling Game
A Guest Post on Work/Life Balance by Rory Kelly Connor
We hear a lot about work/life balance. Everyone seems to know what that means and has ideas about how to achieve it. Yet, we all continue to struggle with it. I'd like to take a look, for a moment, at how we have organized this as a concept, an ideal, the parts of which we want to place on two sides of a scale in an attempt to achieve an equal weight on both sides. Work on one side. Life on the other. Hmmm. Do we really want an equal amount of work on one side and life on the other?
This concept also suggests that work and life are two different, and separate, functions of our existence. Maybe this is true for you. Or maybe the work you do is core to who you are and what makes you feel alive, like breathing. Both situations have challenges attached to them and a need for healthy parameters that allow us enough time for rest, rejuvenation, and renewal. What is often misunderstood is that each person's needs are unique to that person. What makes up the core components of "balance" are best identified individually.
Often, coaching clients struggling with career issues express a desire for work/life balance. Mainly, they want less or more manageable work demands on their energy and time, and more life - energy and time to enjoy being alive. Often, I hear about burnout, guilt, high levels of stress, and a feeling of being trapped and/or owned by a job. Usually a job they detest.
Yet, when confronted with the feelings, the facts and the fixes, people will cling to the hell they know - even at the expense of time with family and friends, time to take care of themselves, and time to spoil themselves with tender loving care as reward for working so hard. They will stay stuck on a road leading nowhere or to an end that may be demeaning or destructive. Ultimately, this often leads to a disconnect with the passion within - in other words, a muting of a person's core self - or being broken open from a head-on collision that throws every part of work and life into the abyss. Neither option seems particularly appealing.
I coach many professionals and entrepreneurs who want support in the career arena. In the examination of priorities, clients always express a driving desire to feel worthy, be respected, and be loved. Many are misguided in looking for these affirmations through career more than in other areas of their lives. Mired in the business paradigm, nailed to the bottom line, required to do or be things that feel out of alignment with values, many people simply cannot achieve a sense of being worthy, having self-respect, and feeling lovable through their work. Add to this that they are often sacrificing time with family and friends, and have no time for endeavors that generate the very feelings they deeply desire, instead serving a master that may never deliver the return-on-investment that satisfies the soul.
Recently, I was made aware of a passage in a book by James Patterson, entitled Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, which so aptly points us in the right direction.
"Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you're keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that 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. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life."
The best way to view your career or a job is as if it's a rubber ball. You can always change jobs, find a job, create a business, invent something, change directions, re-train or start over. However, you cannot replace your family and friends, or recapture time lost or spent on something you don't really value or can't take with you. In addition, you can't forget the times you sold out the most important person in your life for an objective, a sales goal, more money or a cool trip - yourself. Which inhibits the ability to feel "worthy," have self-respect and be lovable. My recommendation to you: If you want balance, evaluate your priorities. If your job is more important to you than every other person and thing in your life, stay on track. If it isn't, BOUNCE.
Based in New York and New Jersey, and serving clients worldwide, Rory Kelly Connor is a Peak Potential Coach, Certified Life & Career Coach, and Business/Branding& PR Strategy Expert. For more information, please visit www.canyouimaginelifecoaching.com.
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