I met a woman recently who taught me a valuable lesson about life balance:
“Your sanity should never become the sacrificial lamb for your success.” – Kim Kotecki
(I should mention upfront, when I refer to “success” in this article, I’m talking about prosperity in one’s career, which I realize is not everyone’s definition of success.)
After years of hard work, risk, and sacrifice, the woman in question has a successful business with a big future. She’s young, beautiful, in good health, and has a supportive family. What more could a woman want, right?! Well, although she is winning in almost every aspect of her life, she is losing the battle of balance.
I sat there watching people trying to uncover her “secrets to success” and I couldn’t help but feel saddened. Although she had definitely “arrived” in her career, it was obvious that she was fighting very hard to keep all of the aspects of her life manageable, just to stay sane.
Success without life balance is like a house of cards. It doesn’t take much to knock it all to smithereens.
In fact, it’s the inevitable outcome.
As a fellow entrepreneur, I have a serious amount of respect for the investment she’s made and foundation she’s built. That is NOT easy. Building a business, climbing the ladder, striving for black on the bottom line, setting yourself apart from your colleagues — these are all good things, especially when you’re using your talents to benefit others. Seriously admirable stuff.
What cost would you choose to pay for this definition of success?
Your relationships? Your health? Your sanity?
Here are 5 warning signs that your life is a house of cards:
1. You Miss Someone
You are overextended and your busy schedule leaves you missing someone. No matter who it is (even your cat), this is your heart giving you a warning sign that you need to make more time together. It could be as simple as an extra phone call or family dinner once a week, or as big as scheduling an extra flight across the country each year. Remember, at the end of your life, regrets revolve around relationships, not things.
2. You’re Distracted
When you’re with your family, you’re thinking about work. When you’re at work, you’re thinking about your family. This is unproductive on both sides and you know it. You’re managing family affairs from your office and you find yourself working from home more than you’d like. You feel frustrated that neither home nor work feels protected from the other. Because of this, you feel scattered, distracted, and worry that the balls you drop here and there will catch up with you in a BIG way. Your lack of focus is a constant source of frustration.
3. Your Hands Are Tied
You feel like most of the decisions you make are out of your control. Your life is moving at such a hectic pace, there is no room for diversions from the plan. You go with the easiest route, even if the consequences are frustrating. The details of it all are so overwhelming, the only way to prevent it all from spinning wildly out of control is to let it all unfold on its own, as if you were watching a drama on TV.
4. You’re Guided By Guilt
You know that balls are being dropped left and right, and every time one hits the ground, you are stricken with guilt. You’re left with the pressure to do better and you’re fatigued because there is no energy left to do it. You simply cannot do it all (but feel like you should be able to) and find yourself resenting your life for being so demanding (or worse, resenting the people in your life.) For the most part, your loved ones, friends and colleagues are understanding, but you still feel bad that the underlying guilt guides the way you interact with them.
5. You Are at the Bottom of the List
The list is long and filled with important and urgent things. You promise that when it’s all done, you’ll finally take some much-needed time for yourself. That’s your reality. Naturally, that means the day-to-day is sometimes boring, sometimes a blur, and you lack the energy to get it all done, but still, that’s the order of things.
Are any of these warning signs YOUR reality?
Success is bittersweet without balance. And no, balance is NOT a myth. It’s not easy, but it’s worth fighting for. If you give up trying to get it, you might as well fly your white flag now because it’s just a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. You HAVE to keep fighting for it.
Take action right away. Make changes. Set boundaries. Stand up straight, reclaim your backbone, and start ruffling some feathers. Chances are, you will be respected and envied for the bold actions necessary to take back your life. It’s time for pruning and resetting priorities. “No” and “not now” must become two of your new favorite words. You will be more productive and passionate in all areas of your life when you are rejuvenated and enthused. This happens when you make time for yourself. Being on the top is lonely when you’ve managed to leave yourself (and those you love) behind to get there.
At the end of the day, success means nothing without the proper life balance.
What is your biggest challenge in keeping your life from turning into a house of cards? What tips do you have that might be helpful to others?