What if “the hokey pokey” is REALLY what it’s all about? – Curtis Spencer
Sometimes I sit and wonder…what is the whole point of this journey of life? We run all day long, trying desperately to be the perfect parent, the perfect spouse, the perfect friend, all the while attempting to have the perfect career, the most amount of money, all the right toys and possessions. We get caught in the grind of believing that if I get all these things, then surely, I will find happiness and contentment!
So we keep running everyday to keep up the juggling act, praying that we don’t drop any of the balls we have in the air. And then one day we drop one, or two, or more and realize that the stress of the juggling is unbearable, and maybe we are not perfect after all. The funny thing is, if we are having trouble balancing work and family, the first person we blame is ourselves. We somehow think that we are the only one who can’t juggle it all. When in reality, the struggle of the balancing act is common to all of us. It’s just that we don’t see how the people around us struggle.
Better life balance is associated with a stronger life fulfillment, better mental and physical health, greater productivity and stronger relationships. Life imbalance on the other hand, is connected with a litany of health problems, work stress, burnout and absenteeism.
Did you know that 2 in 5 (40%) people say work poses a strain on their relationships with their family and friends? As many as 3.7 million in Canada feel significant levels of stress due to work.
If you are feeling the pinch of the “treadmill of life”, and wondering if you can keep doing it, you are not alone. It’s worth it to just take a timeout to consider how well you are doing at this business of life balance. So let’s see if we can build some resilience and use strategies to improve your balancing act. Let’s do a little Balance Check-up!
So we keep running everyday to keep up the juggling act, praying that we don’t drop any of the balls we have in the air. And then one day we drop one, or two, or more and realize that the stress of the juggling is unbearable
Are you getting value traction in your life?
Time is the most precious resource we have. Are you spending your time on the things that matter the most to you? Interpersonal conflict with our loved ones often comes because expectations and values of what is important is not being lived out in their actions. With so many demands on our lives, it’s easy to lose sight of what is really important.
We run for the “shiny” objects that give us short term pleasure and forget about the long-term goals that we committed to with our loved ones. We cheat our family, our health, and our happiness for the sake of money, power and prestige. You may say…”that will never happen to me!”.
The reality is that where we spend our time, when we have the freedom to choose, is what we value. Period.
Every now and then we need to do a course correction. So I suggest that you ask a few tough questions:
- What are the 10 most important things/people to me?
- What does a fulfilled life look like to me?
- What actions give you the most joy?
- What actions give you the least joy?
Life is full of tough choices. We can’t always spend our time on the things that give us true value. Lots of times in life, we use a trade-off mentality. I trade my time doing things I don’t value (work, commuting), so I can have things that I do value (a good place to live, a vacation). This is fine and necessary in life. But to have real balance in life, you must ask:
- Is the trade-off worth it in the long run?
- Is the trade-off getting me closer to the person, the relationship, or the career I dream of?
- Is what I am giving up, worth what I am getting?
- Am I spending my resources (time, money) on things that are giving me real joy?
If we really watch our lives, we come face to face with the reality that sometimes the trade-off is actually getting us farther away from our dreams and goals. That often is because we have lost sight of the goal, and we are just doing the things that we are good at. Relationships are messy, exercise is no fun, changing our diet is hard, learning to communicate better is difficult.
So we stick with the balancing act that we are used to. We stay at work too long because it’s where we feel appreciated. We avoid difficult conversations at home and at work because we know someone is going to challenge us to change. We hide from people, places and things that make us uncomfortable.
To change the balancing act means work. And lots of it. It means we need to focus on what is of real value in life and not what we happen to be good at. So here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Write down your top 10 most important people/things. Just by yourself.
- Ask at least one other important person in your life to do the same.
- Have a conversation with them. See how your list compares to theirs. Listen to them without judgement. Do your best to stop from becoming defensive. Listen with an open heart and an open mind. Be the person that you want them to be with you.
- Take time to think and process how you are walking out your values. Consider how your choices are affecting others around you.
- Contemplate what a new balancing act might look like. Have the courage to dream about who the new you might be.
- Begin a gentle process of negotiation. Start with yourself. You may need to give up habits that are not leading you to a better balance. This requires letting go, which is about grief. Then place value on what your loved ones see as their picture for a new life, a changed and improved relationship. Value them by valuing what they say.
- Be courageous and make the tough choices. Write down your decisions and action plans. Talk about them with people at home and even some people who are affected at your work.
- Get a few trusted people to be accountable to. Gather valued people and mentors around you who will encourage you in the realignment process.
- Watch for the warning signs in yourself that you may be falling back into the old you. Respect the critical feedback from others who are seeing this in you.
- Acknowledge your new life balance. Find joy in knowing that you made some tough choices to build positive changes.
- Celebrate your successes!
It never ceases to amaze me how we can go from feeling like a victim of our life circumstances, to a triumphant victor of a new life. Its an amazing transformation, and its possible for you! This new life balance awaits you, so just go out and grab it!