Ice cream trucks. Water slides. Fireflies and fireworks and bonfires.
Stop for a second and dream up your quintessential summer. Where in that picture did you fit in humid commutes and to-do lists longer than the longest days of the year?
I know – you don’t actually dream of those things. So instead of fitting a quick trip to the beach into a summer consumed by work, let’s talk about how to fit your work in around your fun this season.
But Lisa, You’re My BUSINESS Coach
Yup. And part of being a successful business leader is learning how to balance what is important to us in work and in life. My goal is to help you build a business that will sustain the life you want, not consume it.
So for this Fourth of July, I’m declaring our independence from the rat race.
There is ALWAYS another level, another contract, another client. I’ve been there with my foot on the gas, fully in pedal-to-the-metal mode with summer in the rearview mirror before I registered it had started.
So rather than staying blindly on the path to “more,” (which we know is not sustainable,) I’m going to challenge you to get clear on how you want to prioritize fun in the next 8 weeks.
I’ll go first.
In The Summertime, When The Weather Is Hot…
I make sure to dig into summer as soon as the weather turns from frost to sunshine here in Vermont – after all, it could be snowing again in a couple weeks! (Ok… maybe a couple months. But summer is fleeting, particularly here!)
To me, a summer well spent means getting outdoors, taking in concerts, and spending time with loved ones and friends.
I had a blast at the Lumineers concert with my sister just last month (and faced some of my residual COVID fears about being in a crowded space) and I’m looking forward to more music-filled evenings on the lawns together.
I’m also hoping to take some long weekends away with family and girlfriends.
And I’m lucky that even if extremely pricey flights keep me a little more local than I might otherwise be, Vermont is a beautiful state to summer in. In my garden, by a lake, on a boat – it’s all breathtaking when you stop to take it in. And I intend to do just that.
It’s a Cruel Summer (Leavin’ Me Here On My Own)
Not to get all Cat’s in the Cradle on you, but I missed a lot of summers, and I regret it.
Vermont will give me another chance at appreciating the beauty of our New England summer.
But I can’t get back the summers with my sons when they were younger.
There was one year I stood on the porch of our new house, looking at our gorgeous and expansive lawn. I realized I had missed the whole thing. My catering business was really taking off, and I was proud of it.
But I truly had barely stood in that spot all season.
Then the year I decided to transition from catering to coaching was also my son’s last summer at home. I nearly missed them all. And Vermont, in all its beauty and wonder, can’t give me another shot at that.
There were years where my sons spent time with me mostly when they worked with me. It’s not an uncommon story to grow up helping with the family business, and they learned valuable skills and saw my work ethic in action. I’m glad they did. And, they became damn fine cooks!
We did vacation, don’t get me wrong. I made sure to squeeze in our family trip to my parents’ camp most Julys, and we even brought along their friends (until spending the summer with parents and grandparents became too unbearably uncool.)
But it was a squeeze. I squeezed out every minute of productivity before, during, and after – toting my laptop along so I could keep checking off boxes and moving the business forward. I never completely disconnected, so I never completely surrendered to the magic of a summer break.
Now I look at friends and clients and I see how they’re able to shape their lives around the memories that matter – trips to the zoo, the water park, the camping trips with their kids. I didn’t create nearly enough of those experiences for myself and my kids, and I don’t have those memories now.
THAT is why I emphasize maintaining balance and getting clear on your priorities.
We’re Cool For The Summer
So here’s your shot. What can you not afford to miss this year?
1. Define your summer break
Summer was handed to us as kids. School let out, we went to camp, we biked to the town pools and lakes.
I have to push you to put a little work into your summer now, because in order to balance your business and your break, we’ve got to figure out what that break looks like.
What is really important for you to experience this summer? Is it the location, time with family, or who you spend it with? Do you want a week off completely or some well-spaced long weekends?
Whether you’re reconnecting with your kids, partner, friends… or your self, take the moment now to pause and get clear on what you want.
2. Good boundaries make great vacations
You don’t have to travel to have a vacation… staycations are super cool too and a big part of my own summer plans.
You do, however, need to unplug and set boundaries around work or other obligations.
So, commit to setting that out-of-office notice and let yourself rest. Give your loved ones, your friends, and yourself the gift of separating your vacation from your vocation.
(One of my favorite tricks, by the way, is to let AAA do the planning by using their Triptiks on a road trip. The key is to get you doing less work on vacation, not more.)
3. Connect to the importance of taking a break
It can seem like a luxury to slow down and relax, but it will, in the long run, fuel you for more energy and endurance for creating more of what you want, WHATEVER that is.
Give yourself permission to fully enjoy what’s important to you this summer!
Here’s to a summer of memories made and wishes granted.
Stay cool and let me know where the season takes you!
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.
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