Welcome friends to Episode #101 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. If you’ve ever felt like you were spending too much time at work and not enough time at home, you’ve likely considered whether or not you were making the right choice. Career or family? What about those who feel like they’re spending too much time at home and not enough time working? If you’re in that camp, you’re likely also wondering if you’re making the right decision. Either way, today’s topic on asking that question about the right mix of personal life and work is about stopping the guilt spiral that plays on loop in our minds.
The Paradox of Opportunity
I remember just after having our first daughter, I had a lot of questions over how to raise our kids knowing that both my husband and I had fairly intense jobs. We were both consultants that traveled 100% of the time and expected to be exceptionally committed to our client work. After the birth of our first daughter, I made the move to prioritize working locally in New York City – where we lived – with local clients, but he was still traveling each week for work.
I wasn’t sure how it would all fit in. I had a perfectly maneuvered jigsaw puzzle that worked, but only if pieces worked together a certain way.
Coming back to work, I realized that childcare, negotiating hours and locations were of utmost importance. I thought to myself – “With the right set up, perhaps we don’t have to make a choice.”
I also had what many people didn’t – an opportunity to work. I don’t take the opportunity to work very lightly.
Whether it’s because you have opportunities your parents didn’t or because you’ve put so much time and effort into your careers already, many of you may resonate with this.
We feel so much fulfillment when we make progress, excel and create an income and life for ourselves. It is addicting when you are succeeding and creating businesses, companies and careers. The feeling of certainty, variety and recognition are hugely rewarding. When we’re faced with the idea of making time for family or personal relationships, we wonder if it’s worth it. We have a number of beliefs that we are up against. For example, here are a few:
- I should be grateful for the work I have.
- I need to work even harder than those around me to succeed at the same levels.
- Working is the best way to care for myself, others, including my current or future family.
- I’m good at my work.
- It’s not as easy or fun to spend time with family or create relationships.
- I don’t want to give up what I’ve worked so hard for already
- I don’t want to waste my opportunity or time.
- I don’t really know what I would do with my spare time.
- Spending time with others actually hurts my career.
Even though you might believe some of these thoughts, there is a part of you that knows you should have more to your life than just work.
You know that at some point, the balance has stopped tipping in your favor or will stop tipping in your favor. You start to realize that you only have so much time left. You can put in a lot more with your career and get a lot back, but you know that you’ve underinvested in a big part of your life. That part of your life is your relationships or your personal life. Like any well diversified portfolio, you see you haven’t been as diversified as you thought you were.
You begin to see that the way you are working isn’t sustainable. Running, chasing and feeling like you’re behind, still.
No matter where you go, what company you go to, you take yourself with you. Wherever you go, there you are.
Only when I faced the deaths of several loved ones and began getting a more intimate view of death did I begin to truly question how I spent my time.
When we realize life is truly short, we start to ask ourselves if we are spending time in the places we want. Sometimes we don’t need a wake up call to come to that realization. That is my hope for you all. Sometimes, all we need is to acknowledge our own intuition about how scattered or ungrounded we feel outside of our work life to know that something is amiss.
It’s Not Always About the Time
I used to wonder if there was a magic number of hours that I should spend on my kids. Why did I want that number? It’s because I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right.
There’s almost no place in our lives other than our relationships and personal lives where we can feel so much uncertainty. Even when work is uncertain, we have some idea of the possibilities or know that if we put our attention and focus on specific things, we will see progress.
Our personal lives rarely feel straightforward. Human beings are constantly changing and not as easily controlled. If I put in all this time and effort, do I know it will pay off?
When I work with clients on the topic of rearranging their lives to make space for their personal life, it can feel scary. Yet, if you feel as much satisfaction and joy from your work as you do today – I can tell you that the amount of satisfaction and joy you receive from building incredible relationships with other human beings can be ten times greater than even that feeling.
What’s Your Right Mix?
The main question isn’t, “is there a right mix?” The question is “what’s your right mix for what you want and why?” We go around thinking that there’s actually one way to be when in fact, there are many. Ask anyone who has lived for advice, and they’ll give you their own unique perspective.
Your mix of personal and professional time is not predetermined. You will likely fail first and feel the effects. You will feel the imbalance. You will feel the uncertainty. You will feel the missed opportunities.
Yet, on the other side of the search for the appropriate mix of personal and professional life is a life where you are living with much more intention and much less guilt or regret. What would it feel like to actually do what you know to do? To make progress in both places? To not feel like you’ve given up years of your career or your personal life. This is possible.
No matter where you are today, you can improve your quality of life. But if we truly want to change, you have to allow some things to exist for a period of time:
- You have to allow yourself to expose yourself to your own thinking.
- You have to allow yourself to feel uncertain.
- You have to allow yourself to fail at work.
- You have to allow yourself to fail in your personal life.
- You have to allow yourself to be a work in progress.
What’s the right mix of personal life and work? Instead of copying what everyone else is doing, craft what’s right for you. Create a life where you have space to grow in both areas.
I teach you this process when we work together, because when you’re a leader in your personal life you lead much more effectively in your work life and vice versa.
You’re only one step away my friends. So much can change in one year, let alone five years.
If you’re feeling like you want to remix the mix of personal and professional life, start now.
Let’s figure out what you want and why.
If you’re ready to answer that question for yourself, you can schedule a free coaching consultation today at www.mayempson.com/contact.
No matter what success means to you, coaching will help you get there faster and more sustainably. We work towards results in every area of your life. Time management – spending more time on what’s most important. Creating a mix of work and personal life that is sustainable. Career and Business – deciding what you want next and how to achieve it – whether it is more flexibility, purpose or deciding to start your own business. Energy management – improving your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health so you build confidence in designing your own life. If you’ve got some changes you want support in thinking through, book your free consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact today.