This article is dedicated to Chrissie Smith-Schuler, who has faced insurmountable challenges of late, but ALWAYS finds a way to get right back up. You are a true inspiration.
Do you believe in things happening for a reason? For someone with an internal locus of control, I’ve surprised myself at how much meaning I attach to things happening outside of my control. Perhaps I have more of an external locus of control than I wish to imagine.
With trials, tribulations and even blessings, I try and understand what the lesson was that I was meant to learn. Recently, I’ve had to deal with not only a death of a wonderful person in our family, but also battling a combination of a viral and bacterial infection that’s proved resistant to antibiotics. Feeling glum and down in the dumps, I’ve tried to take a step back and understand the grand lesson here. This has led to me asking: Is BALANCE truly possible?
I’m sure we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives that we are indestructible… hell, even immortal. I’ve been working 7 day weeks, and sometimes 16 hour days. “Sleep when you’re dead” I thought. Unfortunately, there is so much abuse your body can take before it throws you a toffee.
I read such a fascinating article some time ago about work-life balance on Entrepreneur.com – or the misconception of such. Have you heard of the Four Burners Theory? Here’s a summary:
Imagine that your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner symbolizes one major quadrant of your life.
The Four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.”
The truth is that life is filled with trade-offs. Lean in and listen in real close (because as simple as this statement is, it really made the penny drop for me):
If you want to excel in your work and in your marriage, then your friends and your health may have to suffer. If you want to be healthy and succeed as a parent, then you might be forced to dial back your career ambitions. Of course, you are free to divide your time equally among all four burners, but you have to accept that you will never reach your full potential in any given area.
Essentially, we are forced to choose. Would you rather live a life that is unbalanced, but high-performing in a certain area? Or would you rather live a life that is balanced, but never maximizes your potential in a given quadrant?
Pretty bleak outlook, no? Being the optimist I am (or at least trying to be), I’m forcing myself to see the silver lining. And that silver lining is CHOICE.
Choice #1: Outsource
In my book “Chasing the Dream: A Guide to Practice Management in the South African context”, I talk about outsourcing responsibilities so that your time is freed up to pursue what you really love and enjoy. However it’s not just business owners who outsource; if you send you child to day-care, you’re outsourcing a part of the parenting role. I hope no one takes offence to that statement – but is it untrue?
I left my 11 week old baby in the care of our nanny to return to work. In my mind, it was more beneficial being able to bring in an income for our family, than it was for me to be with him at home. It broke my heart but that’s what I CHOSE.
Do whatever it is that makes your life more manageable (take note, I didn’t say “easier”). To free up time spent cooking, you may outsource that by popping off to Woolies for one of their microwave meals. If you need help keeping your home spick and span, outsource the cleaning to a helper. It doesn’t make a you a “failure” as a homemaker – you’re just being clever with your time.
Choice #2: Embrace
I’ve been hearing myself say time and time again “Can I just have more time in the day” or “Can someone please just press pause on time?” I challenge you to shift your perspective from feeling you have limited resources, to embracing your limitations and finding creative ways around these restraints. If you can only wake up an extra 15 minutes earlier each morning, how can you use that time effectively to nurture your soul and feed your mind? Perhaps you can spend that time reading, meditating or praying.
If you have to spend two hours a day travelling in your car, how can you use that time more effectively? Perhaps you could get a hands free system installed in your car, and use that time dedicated to making those calls with clients, friends or family to nurture those relationships. Perhaps you could learn a new language by listening to an audio instruction book. Get creative!
Choice #3: The Seasons of Life
You have the choice to change the way you see things, and realise that in life, we go through seasons. Instead of trying to pursue a work-life balance, you realise that you may be going through a particular season.
When you’re in your 20s, your focus is on your friends, your studies, and your health and fitness. Thus the burners on your friends and health may be blazing.
Then, you graduate and start your career, the ‘work’ burner guzzling down the gas you’re giving it.
Finally you get married, and start a family. New mothers focus primarily on their new-borns, and everything else becomes periphery. And that’s ok. Your family burner is turned up to the max.
Take a leaf out of my book, however. There is not an endless supply of gas to allow all four burners to be burning at 100%. Somethings got to give. Be kind to yourself; know your limitations and embrace them. Rally your resources to help you (if someone offers to babysit the kids, TAKE THEM UP ON THE OFFER!). Accept the season you’re in. And if you’re not happy – make changes. I know I am.
After all, you have CHOICE.
The inspiration behind this article can be found here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278420
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