As a coach for professional women a topic that crops up almost daily among my clients is work-life balance. Helping people to progress their careers, while maintaining balance with their personal life, is one of my strongest, most favoured topics. As a business owner and full time working mum it’s also something that I often find myself battling with.
At the end of May this year I was struggling. I was working too hard for too little, becoming unfocused, unproductive and pretty unhappy. It was a combination of taking on too much, losing sight of the bigger picture and preparing for a long overseas trip in June. And, as always seems to happen when facing overwhelm, I put aside those activities that I needed most at that time – namely the ones that involved looking after myself.
After many tears and tough conversations with people around me I made some changes. Einstein’s quote on the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, kept popping into my head. So I did things differently.
3 Strategies to move from Struggling to Striving
1. The first change I made was to put some time and energy back into me. For me this was through my meditation practice. This is the most valuable part of my day and I had given it away to spend extra time sitting on my laptop. So I turned the computer off early and doubled the time I spent in meditation. I felt better very quickly.
When you’re overwhelmed what are you giving up that you cannot afford to?
2. My second strategy was to prioritise, and the most important part of this was how much I could let go of or put off to a later date. I had spread myself so thin I wasn’t getting anywhere with anything. When I focused only on my top priority and achieving 3 tasks a day instead of a list as long as my arm I was suddenly a lot more productive and a lot more relaxed.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” – Stephen Covey
3. The third element for me was getting perspective, analysing the relative importance of everything that was happening in my life right now. The main reason for going overseas was to visit family and friends that I had not seen for many years, and some that I may never get the chance to see again. I didn’t need to make going away so hard. I didn’t need to place so much pressure on myself. I gave myself permission to take the focus away from work.
What happened next was really quite remarkable.
The universe conspired for my success. I wound down my workload to a bare minimum and armed with my laptop and phone we headed to Europe for our overseas trip. Although I had intended to do some work as soon as I was away my phone wouldn’t work, I couldn’t even pick up voice messages, they were all lost. Then my laptop gave up. At first it was just an emailing out issue but then it was the dreaded blue screen every time I tried to log on. I really started to pay attention when my watch stopped working too! That was it, it was time to switch off, relax and enjoy a long and beautiful break – and I did.
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid
When I got back to Australia I took my computer to my IT team. They spent the day stress testing it and trying to recreate a blue screen, they couldn’t. It has worked perfectly since then.
So have I! I’ve been energised, enthusiastic and incredibly happy. I have my work-life balance back on track and business is booming. I’m taking a new, exciting direction and rather than doing everything myself I’m finding people to help me.
It can be hard work to get out of the struggling times we have but it’s amazing what making a few small changes can do to help.
What about you? What are the actions you’ve taken to turn things around? I’d love to hear your story.