March 28, 2021

“A balanced life is a lie…. Purpose, meaning, significance – these are what make a successful life.” – from The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papsan

It feels fabulous to have the time to write a brand new post again!

Since the late fall of 2020, I have had too many coaching resources to study, video trainings to take, new website/branding content to create and other work projects to attend to simultaneously.  On top of that, since my wonderful husband Rick had back surgery in October, many new duties fell to me at home that he had always attended to.

At first, I felt like I was failing in ALL areas of my life because I couldn’t accomplish EVERYTHING I wanted to do for my business and my home life simultaneously.  What kept me sane was remembering to breathe, having faith that God would give me the strength and direction to do whatever I needed to do in the time I had to do it, and making a short list of my top priorities each day. Soon, I learned to be at peace with just getting the MUSTS done and letting the rest go until tomorrow.

Happily, my career is back on a more manageable pace and Rick is doing great with his full recovery.  But this personal growth experience got me intensely interested in the topic of so-called Life Balance, since my life felt completely “out of balance” in both the personal and professional realms.

Achieving an elusive “life balance” is usually the number one thing my coaching clients mention among their top three Big Goals. Women especially feel pulled in too many directions between work and their family responsibilities, with nothing left for themselves. I couldn’t really empathize with them before my own life went off the rails, but now I get it. Believe me!

One of my real estate/entrepreneur clients recently recommended a fabulous book called The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.  Gary is the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty International, which began as a single office in Austin and is now the largest real estate company in the world.

This book, which is meant to help us succeed BIG in our careers and live fulfilling personal lives, has a whole chapter devoted to debunking the myth that “life balance” exists. They write, “The desire for balance makes sense.  Enough time for everything and everything done in time.  It sounds so appealing that just thinking about it makes us feel serene and peaceful. This calm is so real that we just know it’s the way life was meant to be. But it’s not.”

In order to truly “balance” your work life and personal life, you would have to stay in a “middle” zone, like on a teeter totter. However, in your work and passion projects, “magic happens at the extremes.” If you try to take care of all things all the time, everything gets short changed and you never achieve your Big Dreams.  A life lived in the middle creates mediocre success.

But in your personal life, “When we work too long, eventually our personal life suffers. Falling prey to the belief that long hours are virtuous, we unfairly blame work when we say, ‘I have no life.’ Often, it’s just the opposite. Even if our work doesn’t interfere, our personal life itself can be so full of ‘have-tos’ that we again reach the same defeated conclusion: ‘I have no life.’ And sometimes we get hit from both sides. Some of us face so many personal and professional demands that everything suffers. Breakdown imminent, we once again declare, ‘I have no life!’”

Bingo.  That was my experience exactly. What is the solution, then?

The way to achieve a successful, purposeful and happy life in BOTH your work and personal realms is to learn how to COUNTERBALANCE.

“When we say we’re out of balance,” they write, “we’re usually referring to a sense that some priorities – things that matter to us – are being underserved or unmet. The problem is that when you focus on what is truly important, something will always be underserved.  No matter how hard you try, there will always be things left undone at the end of your day, week, month, year and life….Leaving some things undone is a necessary tradeoff for extraordinary results.  But you can’t leave everything undone, and that’s where counterbalancing comes in. The idea of counterbalancing is that you never go so far that you can’t find your way back or stay so long that there’s nothing waiting for you when you return.”

There are two difference types of counterbalancing: The balancing between work and personal life and the balancing within each.  Work and personal life counterbalancing each require a different strategy, so let’s examine them separately. First, let’s look at your Personal Life and in the next blog we’ll look at what you can do to counterbalance your Work Life.

The authors state, “In your personal world, awareness is the essential ingredient.  Awareness of your spirit and body, awareness of your family and friends, awareness of your personal needs – none of these can be sacrificed if you intend to ‘have a life,’ so you can never forsake them for work or one for the other.  You can move back and forth quickly between these and often even combine activities around them, but you can’t neglect any of them for long. Your personal life requires tight counterbalancing.”

A good example of this principle was uncovered by one of my prospective coaching clients during our complimentary first session.  She felt her job’s time demands were interfering with her family’s happiness.  She longed to bond with her two young children in a special way by spending time at bedtime with each individually, reading to her, listening to her say her prayers and kissing her goodnight.

But her job required her to log into a couple of evening Zoom meetings each week, while other nights, she chose to work in her home office for a couple of hours, seeing it as an opportunity to catch up on work projects. As a result, she felt guilty that her husband often put their kids to bed and read to them most weeknights, while she felt cheated out of having special “Mommy and Me” time with them. Still, she pushed herself to accomplish more work tasks.

This conundrum gave her the opportunity to learn to “counterbalance” between her work and home life!  I reminded her that her kids wouldn’t be little for long and that she couldn’t put off this special bonding opportunity with them and expect it to be waiting for her when she had more time.  In fact, the authors of The One Thing made the same point: “Do you really think you can ever get back a child’s bedtime story or a birthday?…Do you think you can cut a deal with God that time stands still for you, holding off on anything important until you are ready to participate again?”

So we came up with a simple plan: Each weekend, she would look at her next week’s work schedule and PLAN which nights she had to be on a Zoom conference and which nights she had discretion about how she spent her time.  She was able to prioritize several nights each week that she could have precious bedtime bonding with her girls, and the other nights, her husband was happy to cover for her. The next time we spoke she was so happy and the whole family was grateful that they weren’t letting this precious time disappear.

Keller and Papasan say the secret to creating a counterbalanced personal life you love is this: “In your personal life, go SHORT and avoid long periods where you’re out of balance.  Going short lets you stay connected to all the things that matter most and move them along together. In your professional life, go LONG and make peace with the idea that the pursuit of extraordinary results may require you to be out of balance for long periods.  Going long allows you to focus on what matters most, even at the expense of other, lesser priorities.  In your personal life, nothing gets left behind. At work, it’s required.

“Acknowledge that your life actually has multiple areas and that each requires a minimum of attention for you to feel that you ‘have a life.’ Drop any one and you will feel the effects. This requires constant awareness. You must never go too long or too far without counterbalancing them so that they are ALL active areas of your life. Your personal life requires it.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: The blog is taking next Easter Weekend off (for counterbalance!) and will return on Sunday April 11 to examine what it takes to SUCCEED BIG by focusing on your One Thing and “going long” in your career and passion projects. 

If you or your friends would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to https://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

*************** Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ******************

I want to be of service to YOU and your friends, colleagues and loved ones! To schedule a F*R*E*E, no-obligation one-hour Success Breakthrough Session by phone that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION on making them a reality, please email me while I still have openings at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com