Work/life balance: just uttering the phrase evokes emotion in most entrepreneurs and business leaders. And the emotive behaviors most often displayed? Laughter… followed closely by dismissal. Work/life balance? In real life, the concept most resembles a circus act, juggling, rather than some Zen-like homeostasis described in the “woo-woo” realm of life-coach mumbo jumbo. Balance for most professionals is a myth or, at best, a wistful goal as readily attainable as self-actualization. Ah yes…but when we attain it, won’t our lives be perfect?! Absolutely.
In the meantime, however, there are at least a few things we can do to achieve relative stability in our fast moving, perpetually changing, slightly stressful lives.
Second, instead of balance, focus on priorities. Not all situations, tasks, events or even relationships are worth your complete and constant attention – people pleasers are likely shifting in their seats with this concept. And, regardless of popular laments, multi-tasking is a neurologic impossibility – probably lost a second group of readers here ;-) What we are capable of doing is shifting our focus…some of us more quickly than others. The average person can do this in about 0.46 seconds – very fast. But a lot can happen in about half a second, which is why Navy Seals are trained to switch focus in about 0.22 seconds.
Since we can only truly focus on one thing at a time, it’s rather important to choose our focal points wisely. Texting while driving…not so wise. For important conversations or meetings, silence the cell phone, close the door and most of all be present. When engrossed in important projects, let others know you’ll be unavailable for a specified time – no interruptions and limited exceptions. And, when you find yourself with 15 things competing for your must-do top 10, re-prioritize, and choose and accept which 4 or 5 things are ever so slightly less essential. Unless it’s life and death, chances are the cost of letting them temporarily slide will be less than attempting to tackle everything with mediocrity.
There is one more thing we can do that is perhaps even more essential than all others. It involves perspective. And this begins with truly knowing who you are. Reflecting back to the use of the word “balance”, knowing who you are and what and whom you value are essential elements in determining your center point. Much like a playground teeter-totter, the center point or fulcrum will determine what it takes to achieve balance. For example, if your center point and values are positioned more to a professional or humanitarian identity, you will likely have to apply more weight in that direction.
If you are actualized more through family and interpersonal relationships, expect your balance to be attained as you apply more weight and focus toward that end. Obviously, balance is a unique and potentially changing state for most of us. Perspective is experienced when you can step back, just for a moment, and look at how what you’ve chosen to place at one end or the other is serving your purpose. What has changed, what needs to change, is your center healthy and strong?
AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK International, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist. Having made over 800 presentations around the globe and worked with more than 20,000 executives on leadership and sales, AmyK and her team teach executives how to lead and sales teams how to sell…successfully. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit www.amyk.com