Juggling our personal and professional lives can be a challenge. The phrase “life-work balance” is often used today to represent the ideal of how to manage one’s life effectively. In my opinion “balance” is very hard to achieve; the word “harmony” is a much better description. To help you understand why I believe that, let’s take a moment to distinguish between harmony and balance:
• Balance = Arranging parts of a whole in an orderly way through equal amounts of effort.
Visual: Imagine a juggler with four large balls trying to catch all four at the same time with only two hands — it’s impossible. In order for him to catch all the balls with “equal amounts of effort” he would need four hands.
• Harmony = Arranging parts of a whole in an orderly way, regardless of the amount of effort.
Visual: Let’s use the same juggler with four large balls, but from a different perspective……Because the juggler only has two hands he clearly recognizes the need to establish priorities. Therefore he quickly determines which two balls are close enough for him to grab and focuses most of his effort on those two, using a minimal amount of effort keeping his eyes on the other two. Then once he catches the first two balls, he quickly tosses them up in the air in order to focus the rest of his effort on grabbing the last two. In this example he is being realistic and allocating his efforts wisely – choosing not to do everything at once, but rather make good choices with each second he has.
Using those two visuals you can clearly see that striving for consistent balance in your life is impossible, because we can’t apply the same effort to everything all the time. Striving for harmony, however, is much easier because it allows us to shift our priorities as needed to place the required amount of effort on any area of our life for as long as it takes to accomplish our goal for that area and then move on as needed.
Let me give you a personal example from my own life:
When I started my business my life was totally altered, causing my career to completely take priority over every other area of my life. I told my husband that owning a business was going to require me to work long hours, and would significantly reduce the amount of time I was spending with him. He believed in what I was doing and said he was fine with that as long as I carved out a few hours of time to spend with him during each week.
During the first two months I was running my business I was on cloud 9….happier than I had ever been because everything in my life felt harmonious for the first time in a long time. At the beginning of the third month, however, my husband began to recognize how tired I was all the time. He also was getting quite annoyed at me for rushing away from the dinner table every night to continue working until late in the evening. Later that month, after telling him one more time I couldn’t watch a movie with him because I had work to do, he came down to my office, stood next to my chair, and said “When is my wife coming home?” I laughed and continued typing, until I realized he was still standing there with a look on his face of sadness and concern. It was at that moment that realized my harmonious life had turned into disharmony without me even knowing it.
Once I got that snapshot of reality from him I recognized I had gotten so used to working all of those hours that it had become a habit. And we all know that once we develop a habit it’s really hard to break it. I apologized to him, asked for two more days to get myself in order, and then I promised that within an hour of his arrival home I would wrap-up my day so I could spend time with him on a more regular basis. I also told him that there would be times when I couldn’t, but I would do my best to make sure they didn’t happen often. He was fine with that, and I am happy to say that I have kept that promise ever since.
Finding harmony between your work and your personal life is possible through establishing priorities and effectively managing your time to make sure you actually do the things you say are important to you (like attending your kid’s games, going on regular dates with your spouse, visiting your family, exercising, learning a new hobby, etc.).
Here’s a quick outline to help you begin to find harmony in your own life:
1) Before you head into work on Monday morning, take time to prioritize the personal and professional things you want to accomplish that week.
2) Set time blocks in your calendar to address each one during that seven day period.
3) Protect and honor those time blocks however you can.
4) If unexpected things get in the way, reschedule your personal or professional priority items for a different timeframe that week and do not let anything else get in the way of completing them.
5) At the end of the week if you were unable to accomplish the personal and professional things you choose the Monday before, analyze what types of obstacles got in your way.
6) Refuse to let those obstacles interfer with your success the following week, and repeat steps 1 – 5 above.
Try the above exercise for 3 weeks and keep track of how you did. At the end of those three weeks if you are still struggling with how to manage your time effectively in order to have a harmonious life, please contact me at 404-551-3601 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a time management assessment (which will help you clarify your strengths and weaknesses) that comes with one coaching hour so we can devise a game plan to help you enhance your time management skills to experience a harmonious life more consistently.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post. As always your comments are appreciated. Feel free to submit them below.
Have a wonderful day, and don’t forget to keep your eyes open for all the amazing possibilities within and around you!
C.E.O. Catalyst & Life Coach