Our post on the work-work balance received resounding response. It’s clear many people feel the pain of juggling a thousand tasks and making it all work in equal proportions. One reader wrote me personally and said, “I can hardly stand these posts.”
My response? “Why don’t you really tell us what you think?”
She did. And in one of our rare guest post acceptances, we’d like to share Lisa’s thoughts with you.
James clearly hit a nerve last week with his post on balancing work and work. Participating in the landscape of raucous comments (60-something and counting), I nearly jumped out of my chair when I read one reader’s comment:
“I am my business.”
This comment made me realize that I work as an expert in a field that doesn’t exist. You see, there’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s no such thing as work-work balance. Everything in our lives is in constant movement and continuous flow.
Let’s just say that if you’re in balance, you’re dead.
Beth, my business partner at Craving Balance, used to work in visual communications and branding for several very high profile companies.
While she succeeded wildly in her career, Beth’s friends and family would ask questions like, “Where have your been?” or “How come you’re so tired?” or “Why are you so thin?” and “Why are you so fat?”
Beth’s answer? “I am my business.”
One day, Beth went to work – and she was fired. She’d been voted off the island, sent adrift. She realized at that point that she didn’t have a life vest.
Beth had been so outwardly directed and her sense of self so co-opted by a career full of accolades and praise that she didn’t know who she was or what she would do next. She hadn’t integrated all the parts of her life because she’d never seen them as a complete whole.
She’d been working all her life and never once really asked herself, “Who am I?” She didn’t know. She’d been her business for so long and so completely that she’d forgotten who she was.
A Google search on the keyword “work-life balance returns 24 gazillion entries (on average). Underlying our craving for balance runs desperation for fulfillment, for our lives to mean something.
In that context, true balance (and resulting productivity) is an inside job.
We have to be willing to ask, “What is happiness? What is fulfillment?” We have to be courageous enough to hold ourselves accountable for integrating the answers to those questions into our everyday lives and making powerful choices as a result.
In business, a mission statement is a timeless statement of purpose that acts as a truing mechanism to keep your business in balance. It works in concert with all the elements of your business plan, pointing to what you value and what’s important to you.
When you know who you are and whom you serve, your choices become apparent, consistent, and (mostly) comfortable.
My business partner and I built an area our work around helping people write mission statements—or declarations—in four life areas: Life’s work, financial development, personal wellbeing and relationships.
Without declarations, people tend to experience their lives as a series of actions directed by a never-ending to-do list. With declarations, people develop a new kind of truing mechanism or self-correction process that helps them continuously align their choices with their deepest values.
Remember this? “I am my business.”
If you are your business, what does that mean in terms of life-work integration? How do you gain perspective or recognize when it’s time to self-correct? What happens when you sell your business or retire or are laid off or even fired?
Who are you then?
With all due respect, it’s your whole life, baby, and you’re stewarding it all. Underneath all of our work-life needs and wants and seemingly competing interests lies the beautiful stewardship of choice— the foundation for generating the experience of integration or the sensation of flow.
This is where we all routinely fall off the wagon. We think it has to be more complex than it really is.
But think of this: If relationships, work, financial development and personal wellbeing are the forks that flow into the river of your life, would a rain storm on the banks of one fork cause a flood in the river?
Even more, what if we welcomed the rain and dealt with the flood? It may just help remind us who we are and where our priorities lie.
Lisa Gates and Beth Gordon at Craving Balance offer MWP readers a special invitation:
Register for our free group teleclass intro on goal setting for the new year, and get our Craving Balance Workbook for free.
Free intros are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday this week. (Don’t worry guys, even though our niche is built around women, if you’re an MWP loyalist, you’re invited!)