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Living Fit: Create a better work-life balance

Sharon McGoff
April 9, 2014
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wellness-mcgoff-sharonWhen you hear the word “balance,” what do you think of? I think of stability, control, equality and calmness. Do any of these words describe your life? What about words like scattered, chaotic, volatile, hectic and frenzied? Most of us fall into the latter descriptive as it relates to the balance between our home, social and work lives. We juggle too many roles and obligations. We add more to our plates without contemplating whether we have room. We become exhausted and stressed. Does this sound like you?

One of the main questions I am asked as a wellness coach is, “How do I find balance in my life between work and home?” Balance requires a little soul searching on your part. What is balance in your life may not be balance in my life. Also, keep in mind that balance changes as your situation changes (new job, new relationship, kids, house, etc). For example, as a 20-something, my balance equation involved studying, going to work and being with friends. I didn’t have a house to take care of or a significant other. That changed in my late 20s when I graduated from law school, got married and bought a house, all within a span of three months. Talk about disrupting the apple cart! Where was I going to find time to be with friends and family and to enjoy my new-found hobby of running? It took a bit of reflection and some trial and error, but I readjusted and righted the scales to once again find balance.

A few years passed and in my late 30s, our son was born. The scales toppled again! No longer did I have the ability to pick up and go when and where I wanted. My husband and I had to figure out the logistics of childcare, working late and free time. Tension ensued, but reflection, compromise and balance was once again restored. This little baby somehow became a very involved teenager, and so now, in my early 50s, I find myself yet again readjusting and rebalancing my life. My interests, friends, activities and obligations have changed throughout the years, but with each major change, I have gone back to the beginning and re-evaluated where I am and what means the most to me in order to live in balance and not in chaos.

I hope the following ideas will help you find balance in your life.

1. Track time spent at work, home and socially. Is it evenly proportioned? What satisfies/dissatisfies you the most? What’s necessary? What’s important to you? In order to free up time and balance your life, do one of the following:

• Ask for help and accept it (e.g., If you hate cleaning house, ask the kids to do it.);

• Delegate and be OK with it not being done your way (No one cleans like you.);

• Omit the obligation from your life entirely (Hire a housekeeper.);

• Create a team approach and work together (The entire family cleans the house.).

2. Set limits, learn to say no and let go of guilt. Decide what your limits are and what you can comfortably agree to do. Limits define the extent of your responsibilities and show others what you are willing to accept. Additionally, when you have the option to say “yes” or “no,” (e.g., a volunteer opportunity or to serve on a board), do you automatically say “yes” and regret it later? Instead of immediately responding, tell the person you’ll think about it. Then determine whether you have time to do it with a grateful heart. For the times when you do say “no,” let go of the guilt because you’re giving someone else the opportunity to say “yes.”

3. Leave work at work and home at home. With the technology to connect to anyone at anytime from anywhere, there is no boundary between work and home unless you create it. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time. When you’re with your family/friends, turn off your phone/computer and give them your full attention. I know this is hard to do, but trust me. Quality and focused time with your family and friends goes a long way to create personal relationships that are instrumental to your professional success. When you’re at work, leave family issues at home.

4. Manage your time. At home, organize tasks efficiently, such as doing a load of laundry every day rather than saving it all for a day off. Keep a family calendar centrally located to post everyone’s activities (work and personal), which will help limit time-consuming misunderstandings via clear communication. At work, set priorities, work smarter not harder, and delegate (and really let go!). Delegation at work gives others opportunities and the chance to grow.

5. Create time for yourself. Being a good employee, parent, partner and friend means being good to yourself first. Eat healthy, include physical activity in your daily routine and get enough sleep. Set aside time each day for an activity you enjoy. Taking care of yourself will benefit you and everyone around you.

6. Flexibility. Let go of the need to have everything done a certain way. Perfectionism is not a human trait and you cannot do it all! I know, you’re a lawyer and Type A is written all over you, but take a deep breath, and then strive for an A- or B+. Understand that with work, children and life, things change at a moment’s notice. Always have a Plan “B” and be OK with that.

7. Discuss expectations and responsibilities. When one family member is taking on too many responsibilities, or one co-worker is doing it all at work, resentments can build. The importance of communication cannot be understated. Periodically discuss the perceptions of others to provide the awareness you need to consider choices for work and family balance.

8. Know when to seek professional help. Everyone needs help from time to time. If your life feels too chaotic to manage, talk with a professional, such as a wellness life coach or counselor.•

__________

Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches Inc. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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