Get The Balance Right
By Michael Licenblat
Many years ago people woke up with the sun rising, ate breakfast from produce that was grown or raised on their land, went to work and physically moved their bodies all day, stopped to eat, worked some more, then went to sleep as the sun went down.
In today's world, we get woken up with an alarm clock, and we immediately go into rush-mode. Our system is so tired it 'needs' an artificial kick start from coffee. We barely have time to eat or we quickly throw down some sugar saturated breakfast cereals, then rush off to work. Our homes are surrounded by electro-magnetic resonances emitted from our television, clock, microwave, computer, watch, appliances, and even the refrigerator.
After driving through traffic and pollution for 30-60 minutes, we work like machines, sitting at a desk, barely using our bodies to do anything except click on the mouse button. If time is taken for food, it is often processed, preserved and has little nutritional value. Our environment is always brightly lit with fluorescent lighting, so our bodies can be pushed to work into the night when we should be slowing down and resting.
We battle the traffic again, get home and get through more chores, then conclude the night with a few hours of sitting in front of the television watching shows that we aren't really that interested in, only to fall asleep in a fit of exhausted so we can wake the next morning to do it all over again....for 30 years of our lives!!
...And we wonder why we feel stressed!
It isn't that life is more stressful today, it is that the
PACE of life is faster...and we are burning
ourselves out trying to keep up.
To stay up to date requires sacrificing your own needs (health, fitness, weight, personal interests, and family) or so that work/business needs can be met. Modern day stress is not a disease, or a condition - rather, it comes from losing touch with what our body, mind and soul really need to stay balanced. More accurately, stress is the result of a lack of priority on ourselves, and the lack of discipline to do anything about it.
In one particular study 50% of respondents say they are too tired to say anything to their spouse or partner at the end of a 12 hour day. 55% say work interferes with their sex life. Yet 75% of respondents love their jobs. 66% say that the pressure and the pace are self-inflicted .
Another survey found that 40% of working New Zealanders have difficulty achieving work-life balance, almost half the population! And 22% of working New Zealanders work 50 hours a week or more, up from 17% fifteen years ago . Stephen Covey's research tells us that 42% of people feel life is a treadmill and they can't get off .
The problem comes from your identity and self esteem - how you define yourself. We often define ourselves in terms of our work, job, profession, etc. Being defined by your work, means that working more feeds your self esteem/identity (because that is who you are) - hence you are less likely to give yourself permission to wind down - or feel guilty for taking time off.
What defines you? It is easy to find out - just listen to how you respond to questions like:
a. How are you?
b. What's happening in your life?
c. How are things going?
d. What's new?
What percentage of your answers are about work? What about personal life? Leisure activities? Notice how you define your life. If your life is defined by your work, then burnout will inevitable prevail - and you will want to over commit and over work.
It's interesting - as I write this I can feel myself thinking "but that's what I do. I love my work and so I over commit - and sometimes lose the boundaries and over work because the work defines me. I find myself sacrificing the things that are really important and can forget to reprioritise them back into my life - like wellbeing, fitness and family time". They say the advice you give is that which you need to listen to most carefully.
I was watching the finale of the show 'The Biggest Loser' and saw the amazing transformations of how people lost 40,60, up to 125 pounds of weight! However, I noticed that another transformation was the way they started redefining themselves. They started by seeing themselves as 'fat people' who were controlled by food, and transformed into 'fit and slim people' who were committed to exercise. The process of the TV show redefined who they were - not just in their physical body, but in the image of themselves.
Think of the seven aspects of personal development - health, relationships, fitness, personal hobbies/interests, finance, professional, and spiritual. How much importance have you put on developing each of these aspects in your life? What goals have you set in each area? How much time, thought and energy do you put into each aspect during each month?
Let me suggest a process (one which I am doing at the moment) - just in time for the new year:
1. STOP THE TREADMILL
Working at full pace, without a break, is not mentally, physically or emotionally sustainable. Create the discipline in your time table to punctuate your pace and get off the treadmill.
Unless you stop, think and replan, you will always be 'busy being busy'. Demand never stops, so waiting for the pressure to ease off before you give back to yourself is madness...and it gives away your power and ability to control your life. Don't wait, just make the time to stop and stick to it.
2. GET ENTIRELY AWAY
To replan you need to think of what you want and where you want your life to go.
Sitting in your lounge room to plan, acts as a visual framework to your thinking. it limits your capacity to see, or imagine, what is possible to achieve in your future. As a result you may not aim high or really get in touch with what you want.
Get out of your environment and go to a place that gives you a feeling of unlimited potential or inspiration. I like quiet and nature - so the beach (cafe overlooking the beach) is ideal. Get yourself into an environment that is synonymous with where you want your life to go, not a reflection of where your life is.
3. DEFINE YOUR DESIRES
Becoming clear on how you wish to define yourself is a three part process:
Step 1: Feel gratitude for where you are and what you have right now in your life.
Take the time to feel your successes, celebrate your efforts and achievements. Start with a sense of accomplishment instead of a sense of dissatisfaction
Step 2: Develop a frame work for ideas to flow.
Set up writing space (perhaps one page per area) to get thinking about your life's future in terms of your:
d. Personal hobbies/interests
h. Spiritual growth
Get into the head space of defining your life in more than just your work or professional success, and open your mind to the 7 areas that can define you.
Step 3: Open up the possibilities.
Start thinking and writing your thoughts to answer this question (for each of the 7 areas):
'If anything was possible to achieve in the area of [ABC], what would I want to accomplish?
It is important that you just write whatever comes to your mind. Don't stop to punctuate. Don't think 'well, I could never do/have/achieve that', don't try to get the right words. Just get the energy out!! Give yourself permission to become all you can be.
It is your choice whether 2007 becomes a year of you becoming all you can be and experience all you can experience, or whether you stay a reflection of who you have been in 2006 and become just one year older.
It is time to move beyond being married to work and become engaged with life.
 Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek by Dr Sylvia Ann Hewlett, President of the Centre for Work-Life (NY) Dec 2006
 New Zealand Ministry of Social Development Nov 2006)
 Stephen Covey, 1997 study
To download your free special report on the ‘Seven ways to prevent yourself becoming Over-Worked, Stressed-Out, and Run-Down’, visit: BounceBackFast.com