“There is no such thing as work life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” -Alain de Botton
“The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught. But what about the benefits of living harmoniously among extremes? What if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing?” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Philippians 4:8 ESV, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Life seems to come in seasons for me. When I align my activities to the season, things come so easy. Achievements I could never dream of in any other season of my life open up and present themselves. The problem with me is I fall in love with the equilibrium of having finally figured the lessons of the given season, and life wants to move me to the unknown of the next phase. Sometimes it is due to stubbornness, sometimes it is due to not recognizing the season has changed…I dig in and defend. I cling to the trappings of previous seasons that I have outgrown. Maybe you have experienced something similar? I hear it in clients with words like, “I just feel stuck” or “I don’t know what is wrong, it’s like the perfect storm of…”. Sometimes it is veiled as melancholy, sometimes a series of crises that just don’t seem to stop. Regardless of the form it presents as, it is a signal that the season has changed and it is time to realign your activities with the next phase. The work comes in figuring out what the next phase is.
Take a Pause…
I am someone who does not like to quit. I seldom give up, and in many cases this has served me well. Where it can have disastrous results is when it is time to navigate the season of change. The best response when feeling misaligned is take pause. For me this means retreating into my home life: I read, spend time with friends, write, create in mediums I have not previously, and enjoy the people that mean the most to me, my base. Opening yourself up to the possibilities of the next season often reveals the best next step.
Take inventory and set some goals…
No aspect of life exists in isolation. This is a fact that executive coaches know well. In addition to setting balanced scorecard goals for their businesses, I encourage clients to set balanced scorecard goal for life. I offer the following seeds to inspire your creation of a personal success scorecard:
Family and Home
Success with spouse/partner
Success with offspring
Success with extended family
Success with community
Sometimes a seasonal change can be bigger than us, if the symptoms of misalignment persist then reach out. Connect to community, through church, volunteering, special interest groups that feed your soul. Volunteering always brings a special healing for me. Find a professional coach that you can partner through the season of change with. Life changes are more powerful when you are not just being pulled away from something that you have outgrown, but are being pulled toward something healthier for you.
Don’t give up…
Tenacity has been the mother of some of history’s best success stories. In the words of Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.” You will make it through!
Shawna Beese-Bjurstrom, RN, MBA lives in Spokane, WA with her family where she is an Executive/Business Coach. She writes on issues such as healthcare strategy, operational excellence, communication, and leadership, read her blog.
Want to read more about work life balance? Read more on Project Eve:
Work Life Balance: Yes, I Am a Hot Mess (Please Don’t Judge)
Work Life Balance: How to Avoid Burnout
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