Work-Life Balance: Vision Required
That’s the number of results that come up when I Googled Work-Life Balance.
Clearly, A LOT of people are working on their Work-Life Balance.
How about you? Have you ever searched Google for some guidance, wisdom, and (or most of all) clarity on how to gain control of all the moving pieces of your life?
Let’s admit, the secret to success isn’t working harder and producing more. The law of diminishing return comes into play, and we wind up working more hours with less to show for it. Not exactly the result we’re looking to achieve.
When we come from the perspective of constantly needing to work harder, it leaves us feeling like there’s never enough time, or worse, that we’re not enough.
As a result, we can become consumed by scarcity- not enough time, money, support, tools, sleep, love, etc.- and we can quickly lose our perspective of the woman we want to be, the business we want to build, the life we want to live and the relationships we desire.
Too often our motivation for action is to feel the relief of checking things off our endless to-do list rather than focusing on our long-term vision of what we want; making sure our actions and words are aligned with our vision for work-life balance.
So many women I speak with want to feel like they’re intentionally choosing their life, instead of continually reacting to it.
They want work-life balance but don’t know how to achieve it.
Can you relate?
If we’re playing whack-a-mole all day, totally overloaded and overwhelmed, then go home to more juggling and feeling depleted, it’s nearly impossible to think about the future, or create more joy, fulfillment, ease, and ‘balance’ in our life.
And here’s the big kicker, our thoughts and images of the future, affect the future we experience.
So, I ask you, what is your vision of a fulfilling life? Again, your VISION for your future will affect the future you experience.
Do you want to feel more empowered, like you’re choosing your life, and less at the mercy of circumstances and other people’s expectations, needs, or demands?
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk (a lot) about the importance of having a compelling vision for the business you want.
For us to create the business of our dreams, we need to be crystal clear in our vision of what we want our business to look like. To feel like. To provide. To BE.
Working to achieve balance in our lives is no different.
A long-term vision helps us with short-term decision making for Work-Life Balance.
This vision helps us so that we can say ‘YES” to more of what we want and ‘NO’ to what’s keeping us out of balance.
Far too often we say yes to ‘more’ in our lives without making room for it by saying ‘NO’ to something else.
These choices lead to a life out of balance.
Now, I’ll admit, I think balance is a fallacy. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s bullshit.
But clearly, work-life balance is what people are searching for…1,800,000,000, no arguing with that number.
Though I will say, I’ve yet to work with a woman who wants all of the pieces of her life to weigh the same.
It’s not about making everything even; it’s about aligning our actions, thoughts, and priorities with our Vision of a truly fulfilling, intentional life.
Intentionally choosing aligned actions, words, and beliefs, moment to moment, is what will consistently move you closer to your vision so that you can achieve the work-life balance you seek.
Keep in mind as you start moving towards aligning your actions with your desires, old habits die hard, as do old beliefs, stories, and way of relating, or reacting, to others.
As you move from your old habits into a more aligned and empowered way of being, you’ll feel a strong pull back to the familiar when things get uncomfortable (for example, saying no to a really cool opportunity because you realize it’s actually taking your eye, and precious time, off your goals).
It takes a while to embed new habits into daily practice so have some compassion for yourself along the way. With each new choice, opportunity, or request, ask yourself:
That is, ask yourself What’s The Function of my goal, action, belief, choice that’s in front of me? Is it adding to my vision of work-life alignment, or is it pulling me away?
Here’s a work-life balance activity that will help you align your actions so that you can achieve your vision:
Alignment Activity for Work-Life Balance: AKA Work-Life Alignment
If you don’t clearly define what work-life balance looks like for you, odds are you won’t achieve it.
Take some time to get clear in these four areas:
- Define your Vision of what ‘balance’ is for you in each, work and ‘life.’
- Get clear on what your non-negotiables are in each.
- Understand the trade-offs that will come with the changes required as you align your actions, beliefs, and goals to your vision.
- Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.
Prioritize your vision for Work-Life Balance or chances are, it won’t happen.
Remember, your images of the future affect your future experience. Be sure to define the vision and images you want or someone else will define them for you.
If you know of anyone who is seeking (or has Googled…) work-life balance, please feel free to forward this email to them. And if you found this helpful, please share.
Knowing Your Values
As Oscar Hammerstein II wrote in the musical South Pacific:
“You got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?”
In my last blog, I shared three tips to help you with your priority management so that you can confidently move towards your dream.
Want to know the rocket fuel for consistently staying focused on your priorities, and hence, make your dream come true?
Know Your Values
I know, I know…not so sexy but hear me out.
Clarifying your values is a way to create a map that will guide you along the decisions in your life…so that at the end of your day, there’s more life to your day.
In other words: values help you put your priorities first so that you stop ‘shoulding’ all over yourself, unhook from what others think and intentionally create a life & business that allows you to thrive, not just survive.
Now THAT’S SEXY, right?
Yeah, I thought so.
Values are present in or absent from the choices you make each day.
An instructor once said to me, “Show me your calendar and checkbook, and I’ll show you what’s important to you.”
No arguing that one.
Living your values means being true to and authentic to yourself. No easy feat these days with perfectionism, having it all and looking fabulous while doing it is a common expectation.
There will be times you’ll feel some discomfort as you lean into and honor your values (choosing to follow your values, unapologetically, will most certainly upset the status quo), but it will pass and a sense of integrity & congruency will ignite your fire within as you expand into your dream.
Do you know your values?
Here’s a ‘short-list’ of Values to look at, think over, and see if they ‘fit.’
Here are a couple of examples of values in action:
- If you value respect for others, you’re more apt to instill self-control when you’re stressed or under pressure from a deadline, instead of snapping at an employee (or family member)
- If you hold integrity as a value, you’ll more likely take responsibility for a mistake even if it means receiving criticism.
Check out the list above and choose 3-5 values. Keep in mind that you can often have groupings of values that will go under one main value. If you want more of a selection, check out Brene Brown’s list of values from her most recent book, ‘Dare to Lead.’
Ready to put them into action?
Alignment Activity for Values:
Set aside some time to journal on these questions after clarifying each of your values. Go over each one individually and ask yourself:
- Where is this value showing up in my life?
- How am I honoring this value each day?
- How do I embody this value in my choices and actions each day? (Example: if I were congruent with my value of self-care, I would make to schedule time with my girlfriends who feed my soul.)
Keep track weekly or monthly with how you’re honoring each of these values, on a scale of 1-10 (ten being the most) and what the obstacles are that are getting in the way.
Clarity is key…with clarity comes awareness. With awareness comes better choices, with better choices comes…better results.
Could you use some help honing your values? I offer a mini-intensive to help women clarify their values and create a plan for how to live them every day. Let’s chat! You can book a time to connect with me here.
As a business strategist, one of the struggles I hear most often is the topic of time management.
Has this statement ever rolled off your lips?
“I need to be better at time management.”
Here’s the thing, time management isn’t the issue.
It’s your priority management.
Are you prioritizing your schedule, or scheduling your priorities?
If you schedule your priorities
, your goals are much easier (and faster) to attain. If you prioritize your schedule, you may have a great schedule, but it’s less likely you’ll achieve your goals
Here’s a quick video where I share three strategies for how to get clear on your priorities so you can create a plan of action
that will work for you.
We all have 24 hours in a day. It’s how we manage those moments and hours within the day so that we can achieve what we want and still have time AND energy at the end of the day.
These 3 tips will help you shift your thoughts about time management so you can achieve all that you want and still have a life and have energy at the end of the day.
- Clarity. Be sure to have crystal clarity about exactly what it is you want. When your business is fully ‘cooked’, what does it look like? Where do you need to be at the end of the year for you to feel you’re moving closer to your goals? And even more, who do you need to be to make that happen?
- Skills. What are the skills you need to augment or acquire to create the success you want? The skills that have gotten you to where you are now won’t be enough to take you to the next level.
- Prioritizing. I cannot stress this enough. Taking the time to prioritize your vision and defining the skills you’ll need, will allow you to take what’s is important and place these action items on the front burner and place the urgent items on the back burner. No more whack-a-mole all day long.
Knowing your priorities helps you not only leave your time management struggles behind but also enables you to create structure and freedom throughout your day.
If you need help with your goal and priority setting, feel free to comment below and let me know what’s going on for you. I’ll personally get back to you with ideas to help you gain focus and traction!
Priority management over time management will give you your compass
Creating a High-Performance Team
If you lead a team, are a part of a team, or want to increase your personal performance, here are the 5-main areas I’ve learned as a 27-year, five-time business owner that support us in working collaboratively, finding our creativity and increasing our performance.
1. Vision & Values: A Must For A High-Performance Team
Vision: Clarity precedes awareness, and awareness precedes making better choices.
Establishing a clear vision of where you want to go and grow your business or career is how you’ll know what to focus on, when, and WHY.
So often we feel we don’t have the ‘luxury’ to slow down and make sure where we’re heading is in fact, where we want to go. If you don’t know where you’re heading, how will you know what to focus on? How will you know what to have your teams focus on?
Values: Our Vision is where we’re heading. Our Values are what help us to get there.
Choose five specific values that embody the essence of the business or career you’re building. Take a look at where your values are present in, or absent from, your choices and direction of your business or career (…and relationships).
Ask yourself, how do you embody these value in your choices and actions each day?
Values hold us to a different standard for managing our time and achieving our vision.
2.Culture & Leadership: The Fuel For A High-Performance Team
An interesting statistic: 75% of employees say their boss is the most stressful part of their job. According to Gallup, people leave bosses, not companies (unless the company is promoting that type of leadership).
How you lead your team will impact their productivity, collaboration, innovation, and your bottom line.
Be clear on the culture and leadership style in your business. If you don’t understand your own culture, how will you know how to hire the right people to fit into it?
3. Time & Energy Management
So many people come to me saying they have difficulty managing their time. I’d say it’s right up there in the top 1-3 struggles that trip most people up on their way to success (..to be clear, success according to what it is for them, not what others need, expect or want for/from them).
I say it’s not time management; it’s priority management. We cannot go horizontal and vertical at the same time. If you have more than 1 or 2 priorities, you don’t have priorities; you have a to-do list (one that is probably not closely aligned with specific goals or your vision).
Having a clear vision helps you cut away the non-essentials and focus on your long-term vision which will minimize ‘issues’ with time management.
Be aware of how your energy is impacting your team, your clients, your environment in your business…and adjust accordingly.
4. Systems & Quantification
It’s about creating a well-oiled machine, not reinventing the wheel. Establish systems around what you repeatedly do so you can focus on what it takes to achieve your vision, and not feel like it’s Groundhog Day…again.
Once you have your systems in place, you can then quantify your efforts. Is that marketing strategy you have in place working, is there a glitch somewhere in the implementation of it? Does the system for onboarding new clients work efficiently, or is it missing a step?
5. Accountability & Implementation
Accountability is something many of my clients want (and need). Someone to hold their vision up for them to see, and keep directing them back to it with each choice.
Here’s the thing, we’re more apt to let ourselves down, but we are far less likely to let our team down.
Working together, collaborating, inviting conversation…moving out of our silos and into a community that supports us and holds us accountable to our vision, and the vision of the team is what motivates us to get into action, implement, succeed, and support each other.
One more thing, keep the Law of Linkage in mind…link ALL your choices, actions, and communication back to your vision and values of who you want to be and the business or career you desire to build, and you won’t go wrong.
I’d love to hear from you. What supports you in creating a high-performance team? Could you use some help clarifying your vision, establishing your culture and leading your team? Let’s set up a time to chat, I’d love to support you. Click Here to schedule a Clarity Call.
Alignment Invites Flow
I recently spent some time in Maine celebrating the 35th anniversary of my family’s bakery and restaurant. Such a great time and what an amazing turnout- over 250 people came to celebrate with us! It was an honor to listen to everyone tell stories from over the years. It brought such joy to have my family together.
The picture below is from 1988 with my parents, sister, brother and his wife, celebrating an earlier milestone in the family business…and yes, that’s me on the left with the big 80’s hair!
On the drive back to Vermont from Maine, the event got me thinking about the importance of fluidity in business as a base for longevity, success, and fulfillment.
Being rigid and doing things because it’s how things ‘should be done’, or ‘it’s the way things have always been done’, doesn’t support our growth, work-life alignment, evolution, or (most importantly) joy in business…or our personal life.
If we’re continually working against our natural flow, attempting to swim upstream so that we can achieve success and experience fulfillment, it’s simply not sustainable. We eventually call uncle and wonder why it didn’t work out.
If who we are isn’t in alignment with what we do, we will continually struggle.
This made me think of a client I’ve been working with recently. He runs two businesses, is incredibly talented and extremely passionate about his work. He was getting caught up in the ‘shoulding’ of business.
- He should be more organized (in the traditional sense).
- He should manage his time better.
- He should know what to do when to do it, and how to do it…without fail.
- He should be more technical.
You get the picture. But here’s the thing, he was working hard to build his business from a set of ‘rules’ that didn’t align with who he is. He was struggling, not allowing his beautiful, creative mind to flow, to ALLOW.
We talked about the metaphor of a river bank and using the edges of the river to guide him, but not confine him. Creating an ebb and flow to his day, week, month, year that feels inviting.
Going with HIS NATURAL FLOW, instead of against it.
Life would be rather ‘beige’ and unexciting if we all approached our days in the same way, yes?
It’s the contrast, the learning…the unfolding that invites us to truly experience and expand.
As my client settles into doing things his way, owning his style of doing business, he’s finding the river banks an inviting place to slow down, relax, and relish, not something to avoid.
I invite you to take some time to think about and journal on the following questions to help you find and stay in your flow:
- How do you stay in alignment with who you are as a business owner?
- Where do you get tripped up in the ‘shoulding’ of business?
- What beliefs would benefit you to let go of so that you can embrace ones that serve you and your goals at a higher level?
- And, who do you need to be to make that happen?
I’d love to hear from you if you’re willing to share!
Alignment Allows Flow
Boundaries Without Apology
Everyone has their own opinion, experience, take on them.
A boundary is not a bad thing. It’s not evil. Having healthy boundaries doesn’t make us aggressive. Boundaries don’t make us rigid or unapproachable.
I wrote about boundaries a little over a year ago in Business Boundaries to Protect What Matters (check it out here), yet I felt compelled to circle back around and talk more about this hot topic. Nearly every single business person I work with and speak to tells me that boundaries are impacting their business, what appears to be, at greater speeds and with larger impact. Usually, this is due to a lack of boundaries.
As entrepreneurs, we often avoid and don’t maintain boundaries because we don’t fully understand what they are or how to use them.
One View of Boundaries Without Apology
We tend to look at a boundary as a vertical gate that comes down smashing in front of us that says, “You can’t come near me and I can’t go near you …I have a boundary.” It’s a hard line in the sand, a solid wall slamming between us, BOOM! It’s clear, obvious, hard and divisive. It has negative connotations.
That’s what many of us tend to think of when we think of a boundary, and it’s why we don’t like them … because they exclude people,. They exclude us from being with people, or energy or relationships.
It feels awful, selfish, and hard to be on the other side of that boundary.
The View from the Other Side
I’d like to offer another, different perspective.
The way I think of a boundary is more like a step-ladder, that “thing” that’s going to help intentionally and confidently lift/move you to the next level, the next tier, a very important component that accelerates the growth to where you want to go and grow to in your business.
Envision yourself high up on the ladder, keeping your eye on the prize and climbing towards your goals. Up there with you are the people who rely on you, your family, your team, your business, your community.
And the boundary is if we bend down to accommodate someone else’s priority and do what it is they’re asking or ‘needing’ of us, then guess what happens? The ladder is going to fall over, and the people relying on us (ourselves included) are all going to come toppling down as we bend and break the boundary.
When we step down to accommodate someone else’s agenda and priority, we take our eye off the prize of what it is we’re working so damn hard for. It impacts our growth, our success, our bottom line, our team, and our relationships … and quite often, our self-confidence.
But when we hold our boundary and ask the person to come up the ladder and meet us, then we’re saying “I believe in your ability to meet me where I am, then we can move forward together.”
The Role of the Boundary
The boundary is there so we don’t break our back or topple the ladder and everyone relying on us feels the effects too.
It’s inclusive and empowering, instead of divisive and disempowering.
And here’s the thing, when we lack boundaries, we often feel resentment, frustration, and anger and this it drains our energy and vitality.
A lack of boundaries can make us feel scattered and eats away at healthy relationships with family, friends, co-workers, employees, or even (perhaps especially) with ourselves and our business.
And, with boundaries come a sweet little (well, HUGE) perk: work-life balance.
The Benefits of Boundaries Without Apology
When we have boundaries without apology, we simply get more done in less time and we can gain our life back. We can begin to enjoy again the things that are important to us, the things that drew us into business in the first place. Freedom, family, wealth, impact, and more fulfillment in each and every day.
4 Key Boundary-Related Categories
In my 27 years as a business owner, and through my work with many business owners in my coaching career, I’ve identified 4 key categories in our business that we need to be hyper-focused on when it comes to boundaries so that we can build the business of our dreams and live the life we want to experience. They are vision, roadmap, time management, and team. Let’s take a look.
At one point you had a vision, it may have been to make millions, maybe it was to work 10 months a year and travel 2 months with your family (without having to worry about paying your credit card bills when you get home), max out your 401K, pay for your kids’ college…and have some left over just to play with
But over time you had to bend because this person needed you, that person needed you, and the kids constantly needed rides to school, games, to friends’ houses.
So the big vision over time began to shrink and now it continues to feel out of reach. Suddenly, it’s so tiny it’s more like “ If I could just make payroll this week”…or “ …just take a damn day off!”
A clear vision of where we want our business to go and grow to, allows us to confidently set boundaries and unapologetically say no to the things that aren’t moving us closer to our goals.
And sometimes, those things might be something that we really want to do, but the payoff/tradeoff is so much sweeter knowing in the long run our short-term choice supports our long-term vision.
Roadmap…AKA Business Plan (air quotes here!)
A business plan isn’t just for banks and it’s NOT boring. It’s actually there to keep us on track so we can MAKE MONEY (a good thing, right?)!
You probably had a clear plan, a roadmap, at some point but employees came and went, a vendor didn’t pull through for an important job, a big client decided they were going in a different direction, and now all of a sudden your roadmap is GPS on haywire.
Nothing or little makes sense anymore, and you’ve become reactive instead of proactive.
This is when you’re in the biggest jeopardy of falling off the ladder … you’re spinning 50 plates in the air, working on deadlines, trying to coordinate employee schedules, family schedules, negotiating a new contract, (fitting in some self-care), and a veritable plethora of To-Dos.
It feels more like putting out fires than following your vision. I know, I get it, I’ve been there.
Being in reactive mode involves constantly bending down from your ladder to accommodate somebody else’s agenda and priorities. Taking your eye off YOUR vision and goals, and ignoring the boundaries you need to achieve your vision.
Your roadmap is what takes your Big Vision and strategically gets you into motion … it’s what creates a solid path to follow and solid boundaries that say “NO,” confidently, intentionally, and without apology.
Schedule some time to reconnect to your vision, to your goals for what you want your business AND life to be. Then back out of your vision to create a roadmap that supports you, defines your choices, and cut the edges in for strong boundaries, and for your success.
Many of my clients and colleagues, tell me they don’t have the luxury of slowing down to get clear, to reconnect. That’s like driving down the highway at top speed and saying you don’t have time to stop for gas.
We know what’s going to happen. Make time for your fuel now or get ready to pull out your AAA card for a tow. (And make sure your membership is up to date.)
It seems pretty straightforward. We’re all aware of it. While it’s an easy concept, it’s really, really challenging in healthy execution. It’s TIME MANAGEMENT.
It’s a common “business-speak” phrase. We all know it’s important, but do we always recognize just how much? This area is our NON-RENEWABLE currency. Let that sink in … “non-renewable.”
This is the thing we all have a finite amount of. We only get 1 “noon” on Tuesday this week, ever. And, here’s the kicker: none of us knows what that finite number is.
We’re operating a budget (our budget of time) with no fiscal transparency. Yet we behave like there’s always tomorrow.
Time Management isn’t really about time blocking, setting reminders, and finding 30 minutes to check our e-mail. There IS VALUE to all of that, absolutely. BUT, just coming in and “Managing Our Time” kind of feels like a time out, doesn’t it?
Time Management is about tying it all together…what’s the VISION? HOW are you getting there? WHAT’S your roadmap look like? WHEN are you moving things forward?
Actual TIME MANAGEMENT IS THE RESULT OF having a SOLID PLAN. The plan is the result of having a VISION you’re really excited about.
Our days are our life in miniature. Be vigilant with your time.
Use the law of linkage when someone is asking, or needing, you to step down from your ladder and not honor your boundaries. Link every choice you make today to your vision of the future you’re working so damn hard for.
THIS will allow you to say “no” and take things off your To-Do list, without apology.
Team. It’s the people, business AND personal. It’s the WHO. Your team is who’s supporting you, AND who’s not … and where are the boundaries drawn?
Some examples of team and boundaries include:
- An employee coming in late all the time. THAT is a boundary issue.
- Your team being reactive instead of proactive—where is your team?
- When YOU’RE coming in early and working late. THIS IS A BOUNDARY ISSUE.
- It’s not delegating work you could be handing off because you don’t trust your team. This is a boundary issue … as well as a delegation and communication issue, but those are for another discussion.
- It’s dropping what you’re working on and running your kids all over town, for the third time this week. That’s a boundary issue.
Team is how we ACHIEVE more without DOING more.
One of the biggest problems I see with the businesses I work with is they’re taking on too much, and in turn their schedule is overloaded, they’re overwhelmed … and they’re moving in reactive mode.
Be sure to have a competent team that you trust and that can handle the work you’re bringing in … or else if you’re saying “yes” to too many things YOU’LL be consumed 24/7 figuring out how to make it all work. And THAT’S a boundary issue.
Could your boundaries use some updating with your team? Be transparent. Let them know what’s working and what’s not. Invite them into the conversation of what your vision is. Share your roadmap. Ask them where they feel they can best contribute and what are their strengths?
We can’t do this alone. A team is what will support us and uplift us. Together we’re stronger (I know, I know, the dramatic music plays here, roll with me…) because it’s true.
Lift your head, look around, who’s your tribe? Who are your power partners?
Remember, a team is how we’re able to achieve more without doing more. It’s a reflection of us establishing a healthy boundary in our business. A boundary that says, “I do not need to do this all alone and I no longer will.”
Healthy boundaries are what make that happen. WITHOUT APOLOGY.
So, think about each of the 4 categories, and consider these 3 powerful questions:
- Which category is the MOST painful-annoying right now? (What has the biggest choke hold)
- Thinking of this area, when did I last feel amazing/supported/etc.?
- What’s ONE THING you can do differently, today?
THIS is slowing down without losing momentum…working ON your business.
It’s focusing on you, it’s focusing on your business….you’re just not doing it at your normal 150 MPH!
I’d love to hear how boundaries have supported you in achieving your dreams, leave a comment below.