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Woman Smiling

Life & Work Balance – Myth or Reality?

“Is it even possible to achieve life &  work balance?” bemoaned a client of mine a few months ago.  She was running herself ragged trying to juggle about 15 plates at once.  She’d hit a wall and wasn’t even sure where to go from here.  She was exhausted, short-tempered with just about everyone she cared about, doing a rotten job at work and anxious a lot of the time.  Best of all…She was done living like this and ready to make a change!  Music to my ears!! :)  This is what I love to do!

I began by asking “What is important in life for you?”  She shrugged her shoulders and in frustration said, “I don’t even know anymore!  All I do is run from one thing to the next without having much of an opportunity to even think.”

It’s a common situation.  As women, we want to help.  We want to make everyone’s life happy and easy.  And we want to look like we have it all together.  But it’s just not humanly possible to keep that pace up long-term.  Like my client, eventually things start breaking down.  It may be your marriage.  It may be your job.  It may be you!

I calmly answered her initial question and said:  “Yes.  It is possible to have life & work balance in your everyday living.  But you have to be ready to make some decisions and some changes.”

Things aren’t perfect, but she’s well on her way!  Wanna know how she did it?  Good!  I thought you might…

Life & Work Balance Tip #1

Scale back to the bare necessities – I had her commit to taking 1 week to just observe all she was doing.  The assignment was to carve out 15 minutes before her head hit the pillow, in exhaustion, to write down every place she went that day and why.  The “why” was an eye opener.  It helped her to begin evaluating her motives (something she’d never taken the time to do before, because she was so busy).  Next to each activity, I asked her to rate it on a scale of 1-10 (1 lowest, 10 highest) as to how much she enjoyed it

Life & Work Balance Tip #2

Manage the damage – After that week was done, she began observing the damage that was occurring due to the schedule and lifestyle she was trying to maintain.  This included damage to herself emotionally, physically & spiritually.  But it also included damaged relationships with others.  For example, if she was harsh and knew she hurt someone’s feelings, or too tired to do a good job at work and let someone down.  We spent quite a bit of time in this area, working on negative beliefs she held about things she “had” to do and comparing them to the damage.  But once she was able to see these situations differently and accept that the pain of the damage was worse than some of the fears she had, she was ready for….

Life & Work Balance Tip #3

Do more of what you love – I had her go back and look at her initial list and its ratings, as well as make a new list of any other activities that she knows are good for her and her family.  She was able to begin being creative about ways to let go of those activities she didn’t like, or at least ask for help or support in getting them done.  This freed her up to do more of what she loves.

It was a long road and a lot of work, but life & work balance IS possible.  We just spent some time reviewing where she’s at now compared to where she used to be.  Here’s what she said, “While it was tough getting to this point, I’m such a better mom and wife now and now I know life & work balance is a possibility rather than just a myth people dream about.”

How about you?  Do you feel life & work balance can be a reality for you, or does it feel more like a myth?