The myth of balance: How to live a more satisfying life

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Women's leadership & Development Expert, Sandi Givens poses the question: Do you feel "out of balance?" Sandi explores the balance of and personal life presenting the top three causes of imbalance and some strategies to eliminate them! For more information, please contact +61 2 9080 4050, , or visit:


  • 1. E-TIPSLeadership, Management, & CommunicationThe myth of balance: happy with, we are sapping up valuable energy and How to live a more satisfying life.brainpower that could otherwise be used in the pursuit ofwhat we do want in our lives.By Sandi GivensTaking the time to consider what your ideal life would be Womens Leadership &like, what you want to allow more time for and what your Development Expert truest priorities are is a vital first step in achieving a moresatisfying lifestyle.We are five times richer and live thirty yearsBalance or Synthesis?longer than we did a century ago but are weSeveral years ago, it struck me as odd that we shouldhappier?talk about work & life balance. You see, what the term The average Australian can afford the car,balance suggests is that we have all the various aspectshome, food, clothes and, for many, even aof our life measured, boxed and weighed and thenprivate education yet they cant afford to takeplaced on a set of scales (one side holding the worka day off work.aspects of our lives, the other holding the non-work Employees take promotions to pay for theelements). Then we hold our breath and pray nothinglonged-for overseas family holiday, but cant findchanges because if it does, we will be out of balance!the time to enjoy the time off. Despite our wealth, 40% of Australians believeA more logical way of thinking would be in terms of a(1) .life is getting worse, not better synthesis or blending of the various aspects of our Further, research has demonstrated a close link lives in such as way that at the end of a week, fortnight orbetween work hours, family life and lifemonth we consider our time was well spent.satisfaction.(The other strange aspect of the phrase work/life T he bad news is that there is no magic wand, pill or formula that will get our lives in the desired balance. The good news is that we can unlearn many of the habitsbalance is that it suggests our life is divided into twocategories: work and life. Are these mutually exclusive?Do we not have a life while we are at work? And are we that have led us to our current state of dissatisfaction and conditioning ourselves to believe that work is lifeless? learn new and more fulfilling ways of living our life. Something to think about Do you feel out of balance?What follows are the top three causes of imbalance Before going further, though, it is worth considering your in our lives and some strategies to eliminate them! answer to this. In many of my seminars, when I pose this question, there is an almost deafening Yes! from the #1 Expectations group. Think about all the people who have expectations of you Then I move on to my next question: If you were in your work colleagues, family, friends, neighbours and balance, what would be different? Silence descendssociety to name a few! upon the room.And of course, theres you. Many times we can be our It seems many people spend a lot of time focussing onown worst impediment to enjoying a fulfilling and what they dont like about their lives, allowing themselvessatisfying life. to feel increasingly frustrated, resentful and stressed. What you resist, persists was a favourite saying of oneDo you expect yourself to be the perfect employee, of my former teachers. What he was telling us was that always going the extra mile as well as being the perfect when we focus solely or primarily on what we arent Providing timely knowledge & practical skills to help organisations succeed through their people

2. E-TIPS Leadership, Management, & Communicationfamily member who can fulfil all the requests of your days!). When the time came to move to another home, I time? cried, All I want is a driveway! If you are a parent in paid employment, do you expect We were blessed to find a beautiful home we could yourself to give 110% to your job as well as being able toafford, located in a suburb where the land is quite hilly attend all your childrens school functions and extra-complete with a driveway and a lock-up garage! I was in circular activities?heaven well, for the first month or so, anyway. The process of driving up the driveway, pulling the hand Sometimes our values conflict with each other. My desirebrake on firmly, struggling to exit the car on the steep to get through a huge To Do list every day and theslope, opening the garage door and returning to the car importance I place on punctuality can really create stressto steer it into the garage (many times in the drenching for me. I want to be on time to collect my son from rain!) wore thin pretty quickly. Within a few short weeks of school, but I notice I have an entire 17 minutes before I my fondest desire for a driveway coming true, I was need to leave. Ah, Ill just get one more thing off my list!moaning We have to get an automatic door for that garage! You know how this story ends. My activity takes longerSee what I mean? than expected and I end up late reaching the school.It is vital to stop and reflect upon whats truly important to When I arrive (which is a miracle, given the frenetic you when you catch yourself in this spiral. (Epilogue: Ten speed with which I drove there!), I am greeted by a years later and we are still managing without the somewhat irritated child saying Mom, youre late again! automatic door. We decided holidays and air conditioning Though Im tempted to be angered by his greeting, I stopwere more important!) and realise that, of course, I have created this panic- driven situation myself.#3 Living in a state of wanting In our pursuit of a more desirable life, we may frequently So what expectations do you have of yourself that are infind ourselves saying I want to be healthier or I want to the way of the life you desire? have an overseas holiday. While the word want does have the meaning of to feel a need or desire for , it also #2 Financial Commitment Spiralhas other connotations. As we move through our lives, we reach (hopefully) increasing levels of income. At any point in time, we Additional meanings include: to be without, or be become accustomed to a lifestyle that necessitates thedeficient in by the absence of some part or thing, to fall amount of money we are earning. short by, to be in a state of destitution or poverty and to be lacking or absent, as a part or thing necessary to Then we start to notice ourselves saying If only I had a completeness. bit of extra money, I could afford to renovate the bathroom / buy a more reliable car / landscape theSo, notice how our brains may interpret some of our garden. These wants and desires (and sometimes valid statements: I am deficient due to my lower level of needs) require us to acquire a higher level of or I am incomplete without an overseas holiday. When we achieve that, more wants and needs appear. If you doubt what I am saying here, do this simple Years ago, my husband and I lived in the inner city on aexercise. Write 3 statements of things you desire, starting street where few homes had driveways, causing mosteach with the words I want. For example: I want to be residents to park in the street (which was incredibly healthier. I want to leave work by 6 pm. I want to spend narrow and particularly risky on garbage collection more time gardening. Providing timely knowledge & practical skills to help organisations succeed through their people 3. E-TIPSLeadership, Management, & CommunicationNow, write the same three statements, but this time starting each with the words I choose. I choose to be healthier. I choose to leave work by 6 pm. I choose to spend more time gardening. Any difference? You bet! The second set of statements put you in control. They are more empowering and enticing for your brain to process, and therefore more likely for your brain to act upon. When you live in state of choosing, life is guaranteed to be more satisfying! A fulfilling, successful life can and will mean different things to different people. For me, the following definition given to us by Ralph Waldo Emerson says it all. To laugh often and love much, To win the respect of intelligent people And the affection of children; To earn the approbation of honest critics And endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To give ones self; To leave the world a little better, Whether by a healthy child, A garden patch, Or a redeemed social condition; To have played and laughed with enthusiasm And sung with exultation; To know even one life has breathed easier Because you have lived This is to have succeeded.(1Data from the 2001 Survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and a Newspoll Survey of the same year. ____________________________________________ Sandi Givens, 2003 Sandi Givens, Author, Professional Speaker, Facilitator and Executive Coach - leading specialist in Shattering Glass Ceilings that limit success and Building Team Esteem. Providing timely knowledge & practical skills to help organisations succeed through their people