What is that uneasy feeling that I can't quite put my finger on? Why do I feel out of sync? Why does it feel like things are just a little out of balance? Balance? Balance? What's balance?
You mean the long lost work/life balance?
We've already decided that work/life balance is a myth perpetrated by corporate America just to get you to work more.
So what is balance? How do you know when you have it?
More importantly, how do you know when you don't have it?
It's not really a destination as much as it is a fluid state. Because no matter how much we feel as though everything in our life is going well, it can all change in an instant. I keep going back to the Faith, Family, Fitness, Finance model. This is the framework that I have used for years to assess my time.
I did it unofficially for years. At some point I began to recognize that everything in my life falls into one of these four categories. And as I became more observant of this fact, I began to realize that I felt the most at peace with myself when these four categories are relatively in balance with one another.
Every once in a while, something comes up in our lives that will require a little more attention. I have often said that I can do something uncomfortable for a little while if I know that it is temporary. But as long as you are able to recognize it as temporary, and everything goes back to a "normal" state again, you are always able to get back to that feeling of peace.
Not feeling well?
I don't mean physically. I mean emotionally. Have you ever had that feeling that something isn't right but can't quite tell what? Or what to do about it? Have you ever taken some time to sit quietly and listen to the voice inside of you? Upset? Anxious? Stressed? Fear? Anger? Sadness? Disgust? Maybe Joy?
Have you ever taken some time to sit quietly and listen to the voice inside of you?
Now take some time to think about the particular things happening in your life the last couple of days, weeks, months that could have brought on these feelings of uneasiness. Sometimes you need to take some quiet time for reflection.
Or maybe it's an event in the future, the anticipation of which has you feeling a little off? Identify the specific event(s) that has created these feelings. Do you think they are causing one of your Four F's to be out of balance?
Is the event a temporary state that will pass on it's own or a more permanent thing that will require some deliberate change on your part? Begin thinking about what you might need to do to make the change happen. Don't worry about the details yet. For now, you will be surprised how much better you will feel just being able to identify the source of your anxiety (stress, fear, etc).
Is the source actually the anticipation of something in the future? Is it a one-time event or more long-term life change? Is it inevitable or something that could possibly be avoided? Or at least mitigated?
You may find that there is no avoidance. And that realization, knowing that there's absolutely nothing you can do to change it, is often enough to calm your mind. People like to say that "worrying won't change a thing." This is what they mean. If it's going to happen anyway, you might as well accept it and not create more personal stress.
If it is possible to make some changes to minimize the "damage," what are your options?
Those are a couple of pretty crappy options. What is the third option? There's always a third option. Yes, there is. You just have to take the time to focus on the task at hand and realize that there is a third, or fourth, or fifth option. You just haven't found them yet. That's not to say they are better. But you must get out of the mindset that there are only two options. If you can routinely make the habit of considering the third, fourth, and fifth options, your brain will automatically begin looking for more possibilities in the future.
We will get into the idea of "work/life balance" in another article, but for now you should understand that the uneasy feeling is caused by you not living true to your core values. We discussed the core values and being able to discover what they mean to you.
You must begin to be able to acknowledge that uneasy feeling, identify the reason for it, and be willing to address the reasons why it is there and what changes you might need to make to begin to live in better alignment with your values.
For the next week, write down everything that is bothering you. Large or small, when you start to have a feeling of uneasiness, take a little time to stop and identify the reason behind it.
More than likely, the environmental issues that have triggered it are simply a symptom of the greater issue. After a week, reflect back on your list to see if there are any concerns that could be remedied. Are there any other things that will require more long term change? We will get into what you will need to do to start the process for change on longer term issues at another time.
I am interested in hearing what things guys come up with. Email me to tell me what concerns you were able to identify. There will be no judgement from me. Maybe it is something I have been struggling with as well.
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