Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finding Balance Amongst Your Diverse Roles

I have recently been struggling with keeping balance between the different roles I have in my life.  I am committed to being there for different people in a variety of ways, and yet often weeks go by in which I may spend 75% of my time (or of my productive time) dedicated to one of those roles.  What does this look like?

When I step back and think about all of the roles that I fill, and all of the relationships that I want to nurture in my life, it can become overwhelming.  So my suggestion is to start with identifying what those are for you. What types of relationships am I truly committed to, and what types of roles do I play in those- what are your "Role Goals"?

Personally my "role goals" are as follows (in no particular order):
An emotionally and physically healthy woman
A fun, reliable friend
A supportive supervisor
A compassionate caregiver
A contributing board member
A  connected family member

So after listening to some advice from the MA Women's Conference, I have begun looking at those roles, and making an effort to find balance amongst them.  It was suggested that you make a weekly "To Do List" of anything that you can possibly think of that you need to accomplish in the week to follow. Sometimes the simple task of getting it all down on paper and out of your head is stress-relieving.  But I would recommend taking it a step further by mapping out your To Do Items under their appropriate role. After delegating all of your tasks, step back and take a look at what roles are unbalanced, overworked, or ignored even. It may sound tedious or difficult, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

It would be very easy for me to sit down and make my "To Do" list for the week, and have it be 85% work-related.  And if that is the case, then I am most likely going to be addressing two of my roles (supportive supervisor, and compassionate caregiver), but the other roles fall by the wayside. In fact, in ignoring my other roles I may actually be setting myself up to work against those other roles.  For instance, if my To Do List is filled with work related tasks, then most likely my physical and emotional health will take a toll. Most likely I will end up missing my yoga classes that week because "I have too much to do," or maybe I will miss out on that girls' night that will ultimately help recharge me and may even help me to be a better more compassionate caregiver when I am at work.

A balance between work and play is extremely important, but this outlook takes it one step beyond that. It helps to hold yourself accountable for the kind of person you want to be. It forces you to make time in your week for those types of connections and activities that will nurture your soul and help bring balance to your emotional and physical self.

So my list might look like this:
An emotionally/physically healthy woman                       A fun, reliable friend
-3 Yoga Classes                                                                  - Dinner with Jenn on Tues
- 2 Journal Entries                                                                - Call Alicia
- Doctor apt Tues                                                                - Lunch with Lisa
- Pick up inhalers                                                                 - Birthday card for Emily

A supportive supervisor                                                   A compassionate caregiver
- Meet with five supervisees                                                  - Find ZB a hairdresser
- Facilitate staff meeting                                                        - Spend time  w/kids
- Listen, validate                                                                   - Take DC to voice lessons

A contributing board member                                         A  connected family member
- Set up meeting for bylaws committee                                 - Call Sara & Tommy
- E-mail Exec Dir                                                                - Dinner with mom & dad
- Attend meeting Tuesday                                                   - Check in on Uncle Artie
                                                                                          - Invite Aunt Edna to yoga

Now this is sort of an ultimate, balanced list (and it is a hypothetical one), although these are all tasks that are or have been on my various lists.  If you begin to write down your tasks and then realize that your list is lopsided, then maybe you can just take a minute to think about something you could do this week that would fall under one of your more neglected roles. I have found that it helps to just put everything down, get it out of my head, and then take a look at what I am spending most of my energy on (perhaps wasting it on), what areas are being ignored, and how I can purposely nurture those roles which may tend to fall to the bottom of my priority list.

Give it a try, and you might be surprised at how much energy you may be wasting in certain areas, and how you tend to ignore other important and meaningful areas of your life amidst a busy week.  I find that it gives me perspective and helps me focus on what is important in my life, and what I am going to choose to spend my time on this earth doing. It is just another way to actively work toward finding a balance, a connectedness, and ultimately a better you who can be present and compassionate both in and out of the workplace.

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