Life happens, and . . . you can be a gymnast

Life happens, and...

I always feel inspired when I watch the Olympics. Seeing Michael Phelps salute the crowd after winning his final race of the Olympics brought tears to my eyes, and watching Simone Manuel make history as the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming medal was beyond moving. And who wouldn’t feel like they could take on the world after hearing Simone Biles’ story?

When I was a kid, I took a gymnastics class and let me just be clear…I was horrible! I never even learned to do a cartwheel, let alone master the uneven bars or balance beam. With those images at the forefront of my memory, it’s no wonder I struggle with imbalance in my personal and professional life. If I can’t cut it on the balance beam as an 8-year-old, then there is a high probability I am a little wobbly in terms of balance as a 51-year-old. I have severe workaholic tendencies!  I was recently asked what I do to relax and embarrassingly, it took me more than a few minutes to respond.

As I train people all over the country, the number one frustration I hear is related to work/life balance. So you might want to hang onto your hats and brace yourself for my next comment: There is no such thing as work/life balance. Now before you stop reading, allow me to elaborate.

While I don’t believe it is possible to attain a perfect state of work/life balance, I do believe we can integrate our personal and professional lives by bringing our whole selves to life and work. When we do this, we are able to find greater fulfillment and have a larger impact on the people around us so that we all do our best work.

 In order to live wholeheartedly, you must pay attention to the “important”, not just the “urgent” areas in your life. These key areas may not get the same amount of attention at the same time, but if you are self-aware, you can create a plan that allows you to pay attention to the following areas on a regular basis:

  • Your Physical Health
  • Your Emotional Health
  • Your Career Goals
  • Your Relationships

Without a game plan, we will teeter totter through life by swinging from one extreme to the next. This can be alleviated if we simply take time to evaluate our lives in each of the above areas and set measurable action steps that move us towards a more integrated approach to our life and work.

I definitely don’t consider myself an expert in this arena; however, I am committed to proactively taking steps so I don’t end up financially secure but left emotionally and relationally bankrupt.

If you are reading this article and feel like you are about to fall off the balance beam, I encourage you to take the time to reflect on how you can incorporate deliberate action steps in the areas where you feel deficient. Enlist support and accountability as you walk the balance beam of life. When you bring your whole self to life and work you are able to design a life without regrets-- and to me that is even better than a cartwheel.