Leveling The See-Saw
Remember going to the playground when you were young and riding the see-saw? Some people call it the teeter-totter. Little more than a board centered on a fulcrum, you and a friend would get on each end, alternately pushing one another up and down. After doing that for a while (sometimes trying to move the see-saw so violently that you would knock your partner off!) you might work with the person on the other end to try to get the see-saw balanced, so nobody’s feet were touching the ground. This took a little more work than simply pushing up and down, and you and your playmate had to work together to make it happen. I mention the see-saw because the way we played with that is a lot like how we approach trying to create work-life balance in our lives as adults. It IS possible to create it, though not without investing effort that is often counter-intuitive for motivated people. Why bother creating such a balance in your life? My wife, Nina, and I went to a wedding recently. The bride was the daughter of dear friends we met 33 years ago. We knew them before their daughter (the bride) was born. Now we were watching her get married. Sitting in the chapel I couldn’t help but reflect on where did all the time go? How did she get to be such a beautiful young woman, no longer the young child who once played with our children? I was grateful for the choices I had made which allowed me to see much of the growing up their children and our children did in all those years. At the same time, there were times when I was too consumed with work. So much so that I was not able to appreciate how ephemeral so much of what I took for granted as being permanent truly was. My see-saw got out of balance pretty regularly. My experience of being alive for all these years so far is that each year makes it easier to understand how important it is to get the board level. Yes, there will always be that tension between work and life on either ends of the see-saw. Those choices about what to pay attention to are your life in the long run. How to make it happen in your world? Simply put, take a long term perspective when trying to decide what to do today. What does that mean in real practical terms? Consider this: When you are lying in your death bed what will you be reflecting on? Probably not that you wish you could have worked more hours and days! Rather, you will likely be thinking about the relationships and memories you helped sustain and create. Try keeping that in mind when the board is being pushed down by the weight of work and all its attendant obligations. Put into your planner all those things which will help keep you healthy and keep you connected to family and friends. THEN fit in the remaining space your work. This looks like a simple thing to do and I know that it is not. Remember how you had to work with your friend to get the board balanced and that it took more work than simply pounding your side of the board up and down? Your life is as balanced as you take responsibility for making it be. There is no right way or wrong way to live your life. Do keep in mind what you want to be reflecting on when watching people who used to be your age going through one of life’s wonderful transitions. That is all up to you.