What’s Even Better Than Work-Life Balance?

This article is my first of two guest posts for Diantha Harris author of Simply Color and the creative force behind life potentials.net.

If your New Year’s resolutions included a promise to yourself to create work-life balance, I’d like you to reconsider. Here’s why: Balance means giving equal time and energy to the different areas of your life. And doing that requires constant evaluation, deliberation and calculation.

It’s hard.

It can feel heavy.

Here’s what I want you to know:

You can do better than work-life balance. You can create stability and priorities without living within an equation.

You can have work-life flow.

Work-life flow is almost the antithesis of work-life balance. Flow does not involve doing arithmetic, or working fewer hours in order to have more time for your family, friends, hobbies and vacations. Work-life flow is deeply rooted in what matters most to you – and what matters most to you is deeply rooted in who you are at your core.

You know that feeling you have when your mind is quiet and you have a deep sense of well-being? That’s when you are connected to your core, that’s when you’re in work-life flow. You’re making time for what’s important to you, personally and professionally – without apologies, guilt or anxiety. You feel calmer, more focused and accomplished. Your attention and energy move more easily between work and home. Your life and work are more fulfilling and enjoyable.

So how do you get there?

In my coaching practice, one of the most rewarding and enriching exercises for my clients is identifying and honoring their deeply rooted wants. Below is an exercise that can help you take the first steps to work-life flow.

Honor Your Deeply Rooted Wants

Honoring your deeply rooted wants helps you get in sync with  your core, your truest self.

Your deeply rooted wants are intimately connected to the people, places, activities and tenets that bring you joy, restore your hope and fill your reserves (e.g., spending time with your family, leading by example, hiking in the mountains, tackling a project that stretches you).

You may discover that your deeply rooted wants and your loved ones’ deepest desires aren’t the same and that honoring your wants by purposefully integrating them into how you spend your time and energy may initially make you feel a bit selfish. And that’s okay.

Your roots are there to nourish you – not someone else. Let go of feeling guilty by knowing that honoring your wants allows you to give more freely and fully to others.

Identify Your Deeply Rooted Wants

  • Brainstorm 7 to 10 roles you could play that would support what you most deeply want for yourself. (Example: Be an unwavering champion. My own best marketer. Enthusiastic amateur guitarist.)
  • Now consider 3 to 5 of those roles that resonate in your heart: What would you gain by taking them on?
  • What familiar roles do you need to let go of in order to support what you most deeply want for yourself? (Example: Being the fix-it person for everyone. The solitary leader who doesn’t need others.)
  • What would you gain by letting go of those roles?

Cultivate Your Roots

Each day this week, use one of your roles as a guiding star for honoring your deeply rooted wants. For example, on Monday, if you select “Be my own best marketer,” check in with yourself throughout the day: If you were your best marketer, how would you act? What would you think? What you would say?

If you have a quick two minutes I’d love for you to let me know what you discovered and experienced. Just leave a comment below.

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Resolutions: What Works and What Doesn’t

Resolutions, I once loved them. Not now.

Resolutions are a declaration of your end goals; get in shape, learn Spanish, find a new job.  Declaring something is the start of making it real, but does not actually make it real.

Resolve, the root of resolution is a verb. It requires action. The piece that is missing is not giving enough thought to what is driving you to want a resolution to be true and what it will take to make your resolution a reality.

Here’s what I know works to back up your declarations with action and increase your level of success. Read of all my eight tips in BOOM Jackson.

Here’s a sneak peek:

  • Root in Why.
  • Less is More When it Comes to What.
  • Make Your What a Non-negotiable Project.
  • Focus on Habits to Grow.
  • Unleash Your Strengths.
  • Patience.
  • Hooray for Failure. 
  • Fertilize, Prune and Weed.

This article can be read in its entirety in the January-February 2014 issue of BOOM Jackson.

Deirdre Danahar, is a business, leadership and life coach for entrepreneurs and creative professionals (inmotioncc.com). She’s a transplanted New Englander living in Jackson with her husband and alarmingly large cat.

Are You Tired of Resolutions Too?

Resolutions, I am not in favor of as a way to start the year. Truthfully I’m tired of them. Resolutions are declarations of desired end goals worded in a superficial way, “learn to make sausage”, “lose 15 pounds”, “get a new job”.

I like questions that get at the qualities I want to experience, because qualities speak to the beneath the surface this-is-so-important-to-me-its-hard-to-put-into-words-desires that motivate my projects for the year. Qualities are the answers the questions: “What would learning to make sausage do for you?” “What is ultimately desirable about losing 15 pounds?” “What would it mean to you to get a new job?” Without those answers it’s all too easy to fail.

Qualities reflect the value, the essential worth of what you want to experience and feel. The kind of thinking that uncovers qualities doesn’t happen with your logical mind in high gear. It draws on all your senses. A few years ago one of my mentors, Isabel Parlett, introduced me to an excellent and reveling exercise to do this and I’d like to share it with you.

Get out a piece of paper and something to write with. Do this exercise by hand.

Don’t Just Use Your Head

Now, don’t think too much, jot down what first comes to mind for each of these questions:

If 2014 were a flavor what would it be?

If 2014 were a color what would it be?

If 2014 were a scent/smell what would it be?

If 2014 were a place/location what would it be?

If 2014 were a texture what would it be?

If 2014 were a sound/piece of music what would it be?

Here are a few examples:

  • Flavor: Dry rose wine
  • Color: Emerald green
  • Sound: Jazz from the 1920’s
  • Place: A rocky beach

Uncover Essential Qualities

Take 5 minutes to write down the qualities that come to mind for each of your answers to the questions above.

Examples:

  • Flavor: Dry rose wine- fresh, crisp, quenching, friendly, easy
  • Color: Emerald green – rich, timeless, verdant, elegant, alive
  • Sound: Jazz from the 19202 – zippy, exuberant, fresh, joyful
  • Place: A rocky beach – bracing, soothing, everlasting, comforting, familiar

Cluster Your Qualities

Next take a review your lists of qualities. Do you see some clusters emerging? Make note of these.

Examples:

  • Verdant/fresh/bracing
  • Crisp/zippy/joyful/exuberant
  • Friendly/familiar/comforting

Tap into Your Natural Tendencies

Bringing more of these qualities is a challenge that will take time, and you’ll have to think or act in new ways. To bring some ease into that process draw on your natural tendencies.

How could you tap into your nature tendencies to bring more of these qualities into your life?

Jot down all the ways you could do this. If your ideas are a little unpolished that’s normal, just capture these until you feel you have a full list.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Expand my professional network and connect with new organizations that will bring some fresh/bracing/verdant experiences by tapping into my curiosity.
  • Use my good judgment to develop streamlined systems in my office, so that is a friendly/comforting environment.

Pick Your Projects for the Year

Once you have you complete list select 3-5 ways to focus on as your projects for the year. Pick the ones that are most exciting (or unsettling) to you. Those are juiciest ones.

I hope you’ll try this approach. It’s lead many fruitful outcomes for me over the past few years. Like some guest blogging this month and next (more on that later). Plus when things got boring or hard I could easily recall what this is so important to me and persevere.

And if you do try it, let me know what you discover, just post your insights in the comments below.