Mother. Wife. Friend. Court Administrator. Attorney. Coach. Part-time Creative aka Paint With A Twist Addict. That’s a partial list of what I do, and like many career women wearing many hats on some days it feels like I am competing to be the General Manager of the Universe. Most of the time, however, I am pretty good at handling the many roles I’ve chosen so I was pleased to accept the invite of a national tech company to present to its in-house Lean-In group at their session on “Work Life-Balance.”
Millennials, Moms, and Tech Execs attended.
Me: “First, thank you for coming, and I want to shift today’s conversation a little. I want to talk about “Life Balance”. The “Work – Life Balance” paradigm is a misnomer; work is a part of life. The shift will help us get a total picture. We will not separate two things that are not separate. We blend work with the other aspects of our lives and we want a blend that helps us create the lives we love. Life balance means we are not juggling or seeking perfection. It means we are satisfied, energized, and fulfilled doing what we are doing, when we are doing it, how we are doing it, where we are doing it, and with whom or for whom we are doing it. It’s a personal design of doing what matters most to us.
It sure sounded inspiring. And as my goal was to leave them audience with real stuff, not platitudes, I introduced an elementary version of Dr. William Glasser’s Basic Needs Theory as a framework to obtaining life balance. I also suggested adding Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism” and the Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes” to their reading libraries.
Dr. Glasser identified our basic needs: Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun. For example, Food, shelter, clothing, and ca$h are Survival. Loving and Belonging is family, friendship, kinship, and affiliation. Career and vocation are Power. Creativity and self-expression are Freedom. Laughing, playing, and having a good old time are Fun.
We are all wired uniquely so the importance of the different needs varies among us. The essentials (choices, things, actions, people, etc.) it takes to fulfill our individual needs are also unique. To obtain Life Balance, we can practice asking questions about our basic needs and use our responses to act or change our actions to align with what matters to us.
For the past 15 years, I have a weekly phone call with a Sister-Friend to rate my basic needs and share what I’m doing or will do to satisfy those needs.
Feel free to use or share the check-in questions.
- On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest), how do I rate my fulfillment of each of my basic needs—Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom, and Fun?
Example: I rate Fun a 3.
- What is missing in those areas I didn’t rate a 5? Be specific and detailed. Do I want more higher rating in those areas?
Example: I do not have art supplies. I need to go paint and explore my creative side. This is how I liked to play. And the supplies and creative dates were my essentials.
3. What will I do to satisfy those needs today and increase the rating? List the specific actions you will choose to take.
Example: I will visit Michael’s and spend up to $100 on paints and canvass. I will use the 40% off coupon to maximize my purchase. I will smile and remind myself this is an investment, not frivolous. And I will paint this afternoon for at least an hour.
Bonus Question: Who would be touched, moved, or inspired by my plans? And how can I share my experience with her?
Example: I invited my daughter to paint. She created a painting for her BFF and it will be the graphic on t-shirts for domestic violence awareness.
Inhale. Exhale. And close with you favorite affirmation, prayer, or meditation.
Honor your responses and take the actions to create the life you love.
I have been working on satisfying my need for Fun. So far in 2018, I have purchased over 100 canvasses, led 3 vision board gatherings and workshops, and organized events celebrating Women’s History, Fathers, and the Harlem Renaissance. I have met many new people and discovered I had many creative and talented friends, colleagues, and relatives. Recently, an artist invited me to join a reputable group of artists. Scary, but I will delightfully will take my brushes and go!