Life balance is an important topic these days. The definition of balance is “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”
Yet people often seem to feel that the way to find balance is to say yes equally to every demand – work, family, community – whatever the demand, say yes to it. In my experience, the emphasis has to be on the “correct proportions” noted in the definition and that means saying no as well.
Yes comes from deciding to be committed to your vision of life balance. No is another layer of your yes… because the truth is that saying yes often requires saying no… setting boundaries and stopping what does not support you. For example, yes can mean looking at why you let other people’s needs – your boss, spouse or children – displace your desire to find alignment in multiple areas of life.
My entrepreneurial client Sally was able to work at home. When she came to me, she knew that she was not having the success she wanted in her work. She often missed deadlines and commitments. Why? Her reason was she was constantly interrupted by her husband and children (who were 17 and 20). She always took their calls, replied to their text messages or let them drop in while working in her home office.
Sally would discuss how they needed to change and respect her more. But the truth was Sally needed to change and set up boundaries. Saying yes to herself meant examining her definitions of what it meant to be successful as a wife and mother; to look at what lay beneath her strong desire to be needed. Saying no meant figuring out boundaries that would allow her to find success in her work and her family life. (The first step was to turn off her cell phone for her coaching sessions!)
My corporate client Christine found herself in circumstances that impacted her feelings of success at work and in her relationships. After attaining the mid-level management role she had aspired to for many years, Christine found herself in a situation where she didn’t have her manager’s support in implementing the change she was trying to create. He would say he concurred and then undermine her by offering alternative counsel when he spoke to her direct reports.
Christine found herself at work by 7:00 each day, leaving to have dinner and family time with her young children, followed by powering up her laptop and working until midnight most nights. She was killing herself to be there for everyone… her children, husband, employees and manager. Christine tried many different approaches for over a year as she worked to find alignment in all the areas of her life. After all, this was her dream job… the responsibility and pay that she wanted… but the truth was that her work situation was toxic.
Ultimately, when one of Christine’s children began to struggle at school and her entire family made references to her constantly being tired and cranky, she knew that it was time to say no to a job that was not allowing her to feel successful anywhere. She chose to say yes to herself by leaving her middle manager role for a staff position in another company. While making the same salary as her prior position, she is now an independent contributor able to make the choices that give her success across many areas.
Finding alignment and greater balance begins by setting the course with a vision, goals and daily inspired actions that support you in your desire for success across your life. The first part of saying yes is to know what you want. The next part of saying yes is figuring out where you will have to say no to habits and people that don’t support you in creating what you desire. It’s up to each of us to make the decision for things to be different and then to take the actions that support that decision.
I’d love to support you in assessing where you are and setting the course for greater balance. This can be as short as a 90 minute session in which we uncover your vision and establish a one-page plan for attaining it or a longer coaching engagement where we then work on implementing the plan you create.
Just email me and we can set up a time to discuss where you are at and what you might need to create greater balance in your life.
Ann Potts is President of Executive Performance Fuel, LLC, a premier resource for personal branding, training and leadership development. Ann works with individuals and companies who are growth-oriented and committed to ongoing development. If you’d like to explore working with Ann, send an email to set up a consultation to discuss what support you may need. Also, feel free to connect with Ann on Twitter (@CoachAnnPotts), on her Facebook business page or LinkedIn.