Today’s guest blog comes from Life Coach Barbara Waxman, who returns with more words of wisdom about what’s even more important than work/life balance.
Let’s dispense with the well-worn notion of work/life balance as being the key to success. In my work as a life coach, I see that those striving for “balance” often miss out on reaching important goals. I know this might sound counterintuitive so let me share an example. Eileen is an educated, fun, active and attractive professional who always did “well enough” at work but never felt really successful. She also had a lot of friends, but somehow couldn’t find Mr. Right. As my colleague, Tara Mohr has put it, Eileen was leading a B+ life. Pretty good but not what she envisioned for herself. At 47, she realized the balance she always strived to maintain in her life enabled her to have a little bit of a lot of things, but not to feel exuberantly successful at anything.
A more realistic way of thinking is to understand how you best want to integrate your work and life. Forget the idea of living in balance. It’s the brass ring we reach for but never quite grab. It’s better to accept that fact and change the paradigm. At times, your focus necessarily shifts to work, at others to your personal life, and often somewhere in between. You can have it all; just not all at the same time.
How does this affect your love life? I see people trying to balance everything at once — being 100% committed to finding a life partner, and, at the same time, putting in 100% focus on their business or career. The problem is that you only have 100% TOTAL to go around.
Take an audit of the most important and time-consuming aspects of your life and decide what takes priority for you right now. Think of this exercise in the following way: The time you put into every thing you do is an investment in that task. Think of your 100% possible allotment of time and ask yourself what you want the return on that investment to be in the course of the next four months? The next year?
The following are four of the most important areas to invest in:
• Health and Wellness: If you haven’t had a full physical recently, pick up the phone now and schedule one. Once you have those hard facts, listen to your own wisdom and self-knowledge. You know yourself best, particularly when it comes to your health. Think about how your lifestyle affects your physical and emotional health. Exercise. Get the right amount of sleep. Keep learning new things. You know what to do.
• Finances: Do you actually know how much you spend in a year? Create a budget from the past year and determine what you need to cover all of your expenses. That is your baseline. Then look over the past year to see how much money you’ve spent on different types of optional activities (travel, dining, beauty, etc.). It amazes me how very smart people still guess at their budget needs. It causes undo stress and a feeling that what you have is just never quite enough. Understand your expenses and prioritize so that you are working from a plan rather than a guesstimate. If finances come first this year, then your plan will necessarily shift in that direction. If you have other priorities and see where changes can be made — put those changes in place and create a budget for the year ahead.
• Career: The key to career success sounds quite simple: Identify what you love to do and then figure out how to get paid for it. We all know that it’s far more difficult than that. Perhaps your work this year is to identify the job you’ve been searching for and go for it. Perhaps you’ll choose to focus on better time management at work and create more time for other things.
• Relationships: Look at who in your life meets the following criteria: They make you smile, they love you unconditionally, they offer great advice, they are good listeners, they are fun to be with, or they are great connectors. Those are the people to make time for. The others, those who leave you feeling “less than,” aren’t a good investment of your emotional time right now. Once you have this support team in place, take some risks and venture outside of your normal networks to meet new people. If this is your biggest priority — shift more of your time to living outside of your balanced social comfort zone and get out there to meet new people.
You can have it all — just not necessarily at the same time. Be clear about what is most important to you and integrate your activities in such a way that you can be successful at what you want most of all.
Learn more about Executive and Life Coach Barbara Waxman, who will be hosting a Spa Day for the Soul retreat at the Tiburon Lodge in CA on September 21. Learn more! Like her on Facebook for recurring words of wisdom