As women, we are so many things to so many people. Finding a balance between all that demands our attention can sometimes be challenging. We can feel like bankers of our time and energy, pulling from one account to invest in another, always leaving one overdrawn.
I was recently feeling this imbalance in my own life. I was working full time at a job I loved. I had two boys that I adored- our oldest having just come home to us through international adoption. I was trying to help us all navigate the waters of that adjustment. My husband was a hard-working, very involved Dad. I wanted to love and support him fully. My direct sales work was fun, gave me some “me time” and brought in extra income for our family. There was nothing wrong with any of those things….except that I was failing miserably at all of them. I was spread too thin. Everything was feeling depleted, including me!
I would often work late. I would answer the phone, e-mails and texts while my children wanted my undivided attention. I took calls from the school at work when my son was struggling with adjusting. I would rush through dinner, homework and baths in a frenzied race to get the kids to bed on time. Life was completely unbalanced, and I was missing all the good stuff on the way.
I decided to switch to a part-time job with less responsibility and utilize my direct sales to supplement income. I opted to plug back in to my life with my husband and children. I’m on that journey now, working to reconnect. These tips are as much for me, as they are for you. I hope you find some encouragement and reinforcement on your journey toward balance!
It Takes A Village– I have humbly been taught that it’s okay to accept help-even when it isn’t asked for. That it is important to network and connect with others. That we’re all in this together, and we can be cheerleaders, mentors and encouragers for one another. That making personal and professional connections is crucial.
Find Freedom in Boundaries– It’s true, people will only take advantage of you if you let them. Setting clear boundaries will free you up to be fully present. If you work from home, clearly defining work hours is imperative so the lines don’t blur. Setting boundaries will help you stay balanced, and it lets everyone know what to expect up front.
Know Your Limitations, Then Stretch Them– Be honest about your shortcomings, and forgiving of yourself. But don’t allow that to be an excuse. I still struggle with remembering birthdays, returning phone calls and e-mails, and connecting/following up with friends. (My friends and family know this is one of my biggest flaws….I’m working on it!) It helps to be able to admit and understand your shortcomings, but continually strive to strengthen them.
Solicit Feedback and Accountability– Rely on close friends, family and coworkers to help you maintain the balance. I used to have a supervisor that would walk by my office after hours, pop his head in, and say “Go home!”….a gentle nudge to get me to apply boundaries and not shortchange my family! Listen to the cues your spouse/children give that might indicate they need a little more presence from you. Pay attention if clients/customers indicate that you’ve seemed distracted lately. Use these external indicators as a way to gauge where you may need to invest more energy. Be humble and open-minded enough to receive these cues gracefully!
Remember, You Can’t Take It With You– It’s a cliché, but it’s true…..you can’t take it with you when you’re gone. The sales you land, the deals you close, the money you amass, and the material possessions you acquire…they’ll all be left behind in the end. Take some time to organize your priorities and assess what really matters. Then busy yourself with investing in those things. I heard a great quote this week from Donnie Peters of Hope Community Church in Raleigh. “I will not sacrifice my family for future, fortune or fame.” I’m trying to make that my mantra!
What do you do to find balance in your life? If you could invest more time/energy in one area of your life, what would it be?
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Karen, this is a fantastic article! Thank you for writing candidly. Balance is a daily struggle that requires intentional action nearly every second of the day! I particularly like your talking about allowing yourself to be helped in various areas. We are so me-focused culturally that our pride weighs our fall. I am praying for you as you continue to balance your life and encourage mine!