Sep 17, 2014

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Balancing Life, Work and Everything Else

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balancing life

Balancing life is essential for fulfillment and happiness.  If you’re feeling out of sorts, exhausted, empty or emotional, chances are you’re depleted.  The reality is that we, Latina women, get a lot accomplished.  We work, build careers and businesses, mother our children, care for our parents (andabuelitos and suegras), support our husbands/partners, and even help out in our communities.

Undeniably, “caretaker” is our middle name, except (of course) when it comes to taking care of our self.  The caretaker role has been well ingrained and, despite how Americanizada we have become, we continue to rescue and take care of the whole world, at the expense of taking care of our self.

Time to Set Boundaries

It’s time you start setting some good boundaries, let your family do what they need to do, and focus on yourself.  Literally, mind your own business.

The longer you avoid taking care of you, all of you, the more you’ll end up depressed, fat, angry, upset, frustrated and tired.

Start Slow and Simple

Taking care of yourself takes time, planning, effort and commitment.These are four crucial elements.  If this sounds like too much work for you, don’t give up just yet.  I’ll let you in on a secret – slow, turtle steps will get you to the finish line!

Start with 10 minutes a day.  Get off Facebook or your computer for 10 minutes and focus on YOU.  And in case you’re wondering, the computer is not relaxation time. It is procrastination time, your unconscious way to avoid what you don’t want to face or do.

The Life Wheel

The Life Wheel is a useful coaching tool I use with my clients as a Life Coach.  It helps us assess how well we’re doing in balancing life, in general, and how satisfied we feel in specific areas of our lives.

The fundamental premise of the Life Wheel is that in order for us to feel satisfied and fulfilled, we need to nurture multiple important areas of our lives.  It is not enough to put all our energies into work, or into our marriage, or only on exercising and looking beautiful.  Over-focusing on a few life areas, at the expense of others, creates a state of life deficit, as I like to call it.

The reality is that when we’re busy tackling multiple projects and responsibilities, it is easy to neglect some life areas.  The Life Wheel can help us explore and evaluate which areas need more attention.

Why Balancing Life Matters

When we focus on just a few areas of our lives (e.g., career and family), we set ourselves up for gradual and accumulating frustration and feelings of emptiness.  Think about those few people you know who are extremely successful because they literally work 20 hours a day, and that’s all they do.  Do they seem happy?  Are they relaxed?  Do they relate well to others?  Do they come across as uni-dimensional?  Do they look like they need to take better care of themselves?

The same goes to many of us mothers.  How many of us devote ourselves completely to motherhood, and eventually feel frustrated by the lack of fullness in our lives?  Becoming aware of how essential it is to honor and nurture all of our essential human needs is key.  That’s why balancing life is both necessary and healthy.

Spread the Love

So, the point is, we need to spread the love.  To feel wonderful, alive and fulfilled, we need to spend more time nurturing all those areas in our lives that matter.  And, no, don’t tell me that you’re happy just taking care of the kids, or spending all your time at work.  I call that denial.  The truth is in how you feel in general.  If you feel exhausted, frustrated, angry, resentful, depressed or unfulfilled with the way you’re living your life, it is time to find out what’s missing.  So let’s find out.

Balancing Life: How to Get Started

balancing life

Feel free to print this article, so you can lay out the wheel on your desk or in front of you.  Now, look at each area of life.  Ask yourself how satisfied and happy you are in each of these areas.  Rate each area, with zero (0) being the least satisfied, and ten (10) being the most satisfied possible.  Remember, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s all about how you feel, how fulfilled or satisfied you feel within each of those areas.

Place a dot or an X at each number, for each area.  Now, connect each dot or X by drawing a line across each area.

How Balanced Is Your Life? How Satisfied Are You?

Take a look at the shape of your life wheel.  If your shape is small and constricted, overall (with mostly lower scores), this indicates lack of satisfaction across several life areas, and overall discontent in life.  What to do?  You’ll need to dig deep and ask yourself what do you want out of life?  What would you like to achieve, what are your dreams.  How can you get inspired to do more and feel re-energized.

small shape with a one or a couple of peaks suggests that you’re over-focusing on specific areas of your life, at the expense of very important ones.  Use this exercise to ask yourself how much more would you like to invest in those neglected areas.  And, what’s getting in the way of you nurturing those other areas.  Consider what new behaviors and decisions can lead to a more balanced life, i.e., a more circular shape, with higher scores.

There are other shapes that suggest lack of balance.  Use this tool to re-evaluate where you’re at now, and how to move forward towards living a life that resonates with who you are and what you truly want out of life.

What type of shape did your life wheel exercise produce?  Did you make any discoveries that might help you with balancing life, work and everything else?

 

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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