This episode is part of my series: 3 Minutes to Zen™ – The Joy Toolbox for Busy Parents. Get a free joy practice like this every week by signing up in the sidebar. —>
Striving for “Balance” is like being a mouse in an endless maze looking for cheese that doesn’t exist. It can lead to guilt, shame, worry, anxiety, and unhappiness. In this episode, you will learn a new way to think of time management and balance that will reduce your guilt and have you quickly enjoying more of your life.
Society’s notion of balance has parents striving for some magical place where all parts of their lives feel equally cared for. Given the complicated nature of a family, the whole notion of balance simply gives us food for our guilt monster.
You feel guilty when you work instead of spend time with your kid. Then you feel guilty when you leave work early to spend time with your kid. You feel guilty because you haven’t made time for your friends, then feel guilty leaving your kid with a sitter to go to dinner. It goes on and on.
We’ve got to stop this! We are never going to get it balanced. There is no such thing as balance. Life is just to darn complicated. When I gave up thinking that I could balance anything and started doing what I’m about to teach you, I felt a huge weight get lifted off of me.
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Balance Schmalance Practice Instructions
This practice will shift how you think about time management. First, think of yourself as the CEO of your life. As the CEO, you have a number of hats you wear, or roles that you play.
If we look at my life, here are all of the roles I play:
Cook and food procurer role
Business owner role
The problem is that, in feeling guilty about not spending enough time one place or another, I have not been present where I’m at. I am not fully engaged as a mom if I’m thinking about work. I am not fully engaged with my friend if I’m worrying about my daughter.
When I’m not fully engaged, I’m not doing the activity as well as I could be. I’m actually less productive and I enjoy less of what I’m doing because I always have one foot in another role.
A few years ago I took Brendon Bruchard’s High Performance Academy. It’s a great course if you are looking for a productivity boost. One of his most profound pieces of advice for me was the idea of “stepping into your role.”
When we’re not present, when we’re feeling like we should be doing something else, we aren’t fully engaged in the role we are in and we are not stepping into it. we are not owning it.
For example, I used to feel guilty for grocery shopping instead of working, so while grocery shopping I am thinking about work. I always felt behind on food prep, could never remember what I needed, and it all felt very stressful.
Now when I take on the role of Head Chef & CEO of Family Health, I’m there. I’m thinking about what to cook, how to organize it, how to make it run more smoothly.
Step One: Identify Your Roles
First, define all of your roles. Make a list. Then go back and give them fun names that inspire you. Like I’m Chief Mommy, Head Zen Space Creator for our house, Head Chef & CEO of Family Health, Best Friend Ever…you see where I’m going with this.
My housekeeper role bums me out. I hate cleaning. But my role as Zen Living Space Creator makes me feel really inspired to put our house in order.
Step Two: Create Your Visions
Next, take each role and imagine your vision for it. Who do you want to be in that role? This doesn’t have to be long. Just a few words or sentences is fine.
What kind of mom do you want to be, what kind of wife, friend, housekeeper, cook. Create your vision for it and make it juicy and interesting. Make your vision inspire you.
When I created my vision for Head Chef, I realized that I wanted part of my job as Head Chef to be making the food procurement and cooking as easy as possible. So I looked into menu planning, food delivery, and am working to systematize it. That’s a big improvement over my past guilty grocery shopping runs 3 times a week (because I always forgot something!)
Step Three: Own Your Role in the Moment
Now each time you switch roles, note it to yourself. I’m in Mom role now. Sometimes you multitask of course…or maybe all the time. But note what roles you are in. Mom and Cook. Wife and business owner. Then when you note the role, STEP INTO IT.
It’s time to step up! Really own it. Be present. Be the best zen living spaces creator you can be while you are doing it.
Without noticing it, by identifying and stepping into the roles you have, you are giving yourself permission to not feel guilty about what you’re not doing. You will step into that role when you put on that hat. Own where you are at. Be here, now.
Finding a place where you are contributing equally to all parts of your life is a farce. It will always be a moving target. Sometimes you will spend more time at work, sometimes more at home. You may not see your friends for weeks, and then may have a weekend away.
Stop worrying about balance and start worrying about enjoying your life, fully, as it is right now. Step into the role you are playing right now and enjoy the crap out of it!