We have been discussing our Work-Life Balance (Part 2) and the difficulties of maintaining it. Work-Life Balance is difficult but begins with your priorities. Often feeling fulfilled or peaceful only comes when we have balance in our life. I do not think it can ever be done perfectly. Now, if you are a perfectionist like I am, that is something difficult to let go of. We will never be perfect spouses, parents, or even bosses or employees. We will always make mistakes. So, ‘Letting Go’ is probably one of the first steps to feeling like you are able to balance and have a full life.
Perhaps the other item that holds us back to feeling like we have a balanced life is Comparing ourselves to others. I think too often we compare ourselves to others who are role models in our eyes. There are a number of problems with doing this, that will lead you down an unfulfilled road.
Reasons Comparison Is A Bad Idea
- Your map is different! Simply said, you are on a different journey than anyone else and when you try to compare yourself, no matter the industry they are in, it will never come out well.
- Further down the road – They are more than likely further down the road (if a role model for you) in their journey. They have learned different lessons. So, either you are not quite there yet, or you will not even go down that route. How can we compare ourselves when we have a different map for our journey?
- Road twist and turn – All journeys, as I have, said are different. All of the roads along the journey are different. Some of the roads are twisting and turning and others are more straight (although nobody has a clear straight path all of the time, so do not be mislead to believe that). You may be seeing someone on their straight path on their road map, but did not see where they just came off the mountain twists. This brings me to perception.
- Perception is everything – You are looking at someone else’s life from the outside in. You do not know what it really looks like from inside. Our perception can determine our thought processes. Be careful in trying to compare, because you truly do not know the inside view. Our perception of someone else’s life is probably much different than it actually is, so you will more than likely feel like you come up short. Try to stop yourself when you feel you are looking at another with a perception that they are near perfect. This is never true.
- You don’t wear their scars – All of our scars from our life battles along the journey are different. You do not wear the scars of the person you are comparing yourself to, you cannot. Even if you battle the same exact thing they did, it does not mean you will carry the same scar. Everyone is different!
- Embrace the Differences – Instead of comparing yourself and feeling you come up short, try embracing your differences. You are different and that is GOOD! Embrace the You that has been created! All of your roads in your journey create the person you are and nobody else can be you. From the battles, the difficult circumstances, the happy journeys, and the successes in life, you are who you are. Embrace yourself! This will do more than any comparison will ever do. Accepting yourself for who you were created to be, scars and all will do more for your self worth and for your business than anything else you can do.
Too often we get sidetracked in our priorities, by looking at the lives of others. Whether it is their business, family, or any other part of their life. If you truly want balance, you cannot compare yourself or your business to others. This doesn’t mean that it is bad to be challenged to do better. It simply means we should keep the focus where it should be – on the priorities you create.
I promised, last time, to share our priority list with you. Remember this does not mean this should be your list. Also, keep in mind that these are the ‘main’ categories. There could always be multiple sub-categories.
Our Priority List:
- God – we believe all things were created by him and all life & ‘gifts’ in our lives comes from Him – my business(jobs), home, and grace for every day!
- Spouse – (If you do not have a spouse or significant other, you skip this of course.). You must maintain your relationship with one another, otherwise, you can end losing it altogether. Make a point to spend time together, whether watching a show, going out, or just enjoying dinner together.
- Children – They will DEMAND your attention if you do not give it to them. They will find ways to get your attention, so why not simply set time aside for them (this usually needs to be aside from watching their sport/music/dance). I hope that it really isn’t necessary to say that children are a priority, but I will anyway. One of the ways we intentionally balanced life with our children was that we limited their activities. They were allowed to do two activities. Preferably, one was musical and the other could be a sport, dance or club, etc…It seems, today, I see Parents so frazzled trying to run their children here, there, and everywhere that they do not get time to ‘rest’ or simply be a child or rest as Parent & child together.
- Business (Work) – This has to be a priority, but I can tell you from experience when this priority list is upside down, it is not a fun place to be. In our home, at one time, my husband was putting work as the top priority. This was a very uncomfortable place be, I can tell you. As is seems like everything else is screaming at you for your attention. For him, because work is a ministry, at that time, I think he thought he was putting God first. Obviously, that truly was not the case. Although God is most certainly the ruler of his work, his ministry was still his job, and if everything else was out of balance, then he was not doing God’s will. If business/work is first then everything else WILL get out of whack. Nobody can run full steam ahead, neglecting all else. You need to relax, reflect, and give your mind time to create and time is alone with your thoughts and with your Creator. It is often in these times, that you will get your best ideas!
- Everything else – whether it is a group you belong to, giving back to your community or networking, etc… All else comes AFTER these priorities for our family. Of course, you list sub-categories here and how they are prioritized if you really wanted to (ie: Church, Friends, Giving Back, Networking, Hobbies, etc…). Know this will actually give you a sense of FREEDOM, as well as, permission to say ‘NO’ to some things if they do not line up with your priorities list.
We all have different priorities
I do not know if this will work for you, I just know it works really well for us. Now there are times in the cycles of life when one priority will seem more than the others. For me, business is very important and I am spending many more hours in it right now. This does not mean, however, that I take my eyes off of my real priorities and real relationships. Meaning that I still make time for God first, my husband, and if children need me (and I am available or am able to make myself available) they get me, So, although Business is forefront in my mind at the moment, it does not mean it is more important than the other priorities, it is just important right now and much of my time is devoted to it. I know there will be times in the future when I will not be able to devote this much time, so I am taking advantage of it now.