A good friend and I were having lunch one day and we were discussing how we view our lives and if there was any truth to the idea of work-life balance (or the new and improved corporate phrase – life integration)? We talked about all of the things that we were doing, our work issues, travel plans, our mutual love for Aikido, the training commitments we’ve made, and of course, keeping our love lives in good shape. It seemed that we both had a pretty great list of things that we were doing and an even bigger list of things we wanted to do, places to see, and adventures to have. However, I was struck by the range of emotions that I experienced during this conversation. They ran the gamut between excitement, despair (is there really enough time for this after all?), curiosity, enthusiasm, frustration, the list went on and on….
Finally I said to my friend – How do you manage all of THIS? How do you figure out how to make it work? How do you manage the work-life balance dilemma?
First, I must describe my friend to provide you context.
She is one of the most vibrant 50-something people I know. Fit, full of energy, travels on a whim (probably does 10 to 15 trips a year, think jet-setting to Madrid for a friends long birthday weekend), practices Aikido diligently (started in her 40’s and is now a black-belt), and runs a successful office design business. She’s also a native of Argentina whose father was a doctor that helped revolutionaries back in the day. In essence, she is a powerful, driven and fun loving person.
Now, here’s her answer.
“I take the approach that I’m carrying around a bag behind me wherever I go. In the bag are things I want to do and adventures I want to have. When I get a moment, I always review what’s in the bag. When it’s time, I take something out and do it. I know how I’m doing by how heavy or light the bag feels. If the bag is too heavy, it means that I’m not reaching in and doing the things that make me happy. If the bag is too light, it means that I need to be on the lookout for that next thing that I want to see happen. In other words, if the bag is too light, I haven’t spent enough time being curious about what’s next.”
What an amazing way to look at life and what a balancing act! Isn’t the goal to have the right weight bag to carry around through your life? And who wants to end their life with a too full bag? Or too light, for that matter. That’s the key to achieving work-life balance.
In my work with my coaching clients, I realize that helping people get their “bags” filled with the right stuff at the right weight is just one piece of the puzzle. We’ve got lots of choices. But what should we choose? And…of course the big challenge is we sometimes carry around at lot of “baggage” that sabotages work-life balance and true engagement.
Time is finite but it’s what we do with it that’s precious. So, what are you holding onto that you need to get rid of so you can fill your bag with the best “stuff” possible?
So…what’s in your bag?