Hello! Anybody still dropping by? I’ve been a bit quiet. Things and stuff and whatnot going on. Lots of work stuff taking hours and turning my mind to mush.
I came up with this analogy about balancing things in life.
Some people don’t like the term “work life balance” as it implies that there is a disconnect between working and living. But lets face it, if you have a full-time job you spend more time at work than you do on anything else, so it is never really balanced. And there are so many things in the “life” bit.
So here’s my metaphor.
Imagine you have a five ring gas stove top to represent aspects of your life.
One ring is work, one family, one home or your physical environment, one friends and one ring all about you and self-care. Each ring has four settings – very low, low, medium and high. You have enough gas pressure to run any of the rings but the total can only be 12. So you you have to switch some off to run others at high, or run all at low. You don’t have the energy to run all at medium, let alone at high.
When my kids were little, I ran work and family at high. A total of 8, leaving 4 for home, friends and my fitness. I didn’t do much for me and was a bad friend, probably burning each at very low. My house was never as clean or organised as I would like and my efforts in the garden was spasmodic; running this at low. If I wasn’t in such a stressful profession or after promotions, I could have consumed less energy for the work burner and diverted more to run other burners. There is no way I would have run my family at lower than high.
Now my children are older and need me less, I can turn the family burner down to medium. Work is still running at high. That leaves me 5 for the others. Is it selfish that I am upping the burner that is about me? I am spending more time and energy on my health, fitness and personal interests. Running it at medium.
What to do with the other 2 energy points?
It pains me, because it is not the sort of person I want to be, or want to admit to being, but I put little energy in friendships. It’s not that I think work is more important than friends, but clearly I must do, as I give more time and energy to it! I can rationalise it (need the money to live; do a job, do it well; get fulfilment from work etc) but it really is rationalisation. Those who put their time into other aspects of life away from work can just as easily rationalise not working on their career. Sometimes it seems energy has been allocated to aspects of life without a conscious choice.
You might rename some of your burners, eg a community burner. For me that came under family as I did community things for my kids’ interests, such as volunteering for sporting clubs and school activities. Now it comes under home, as I work with neighbours to protect and support our area.
Anyway, the point is we cannot have everything and be brilliant at everything. We just don’t have the energy.
So what burners are you diverting energy to? How do you feel about it? Did you suddenly find yourself with one burner blazing away that you never thought you’d want to turn up? Or is the reverse true: one burner is barely flickering and you wish you could turn it up?