Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Blogger: Full Life, Not Balance

Today's guest blogger is our dear friend, Deb Hornell.  We all met Deb through the participation of the leadership program that brought us all together.  Deb is extremely passionate about living a FULL LIFE vs. "balance."  When we started our blog months ago, this was an area we wanted to help all of our followers with, we hope you will find ways to build Deb's words of wisdom into your life.    

Like many of you, I used to struggle with trying to “have it all” - to achieve that holy grail of work-life balance.  This popular concept is unrealistic.  It implies that work and life are somehow separate – they’re not.  It suggests that you can achieve perfect equilibrium – you can’t.  It also assumes that once you find a formula that works for you, you’re set for life – you’re not.
So I stopped chasing that elusive, unrealistic dream of “balance”, and began to focus on having a “full life”, full of the things that matter to me – work, family, friends, travel, self-care, music, gardening and not-for-profit work, to name a few.   I had to find what works for me, not what anyone else says I “should” be doing.  I need a life that fulfills me, that nourishes my spirit.  Once I owned responsibility for figuring out what matters and taking accountability for making it happen, I was less stressed and more satisfied with how my life was unfolding.
Here are some tips that worked for me. 
  1. Forget about having it all.  Instead, consider what matters:  what’s important to you, what you want your life to be full of.  Make a list, then look at it again.  Is there anything you’ve forgotten?  Is there something you love to do, but haven’t been able to fit into your hectic, whirlwind of a life?
  2. Begin to think of your full life as a chapter book, a series of phases you pass through.  Although many of the good things you want in your life will be present in various chapters, the energy and priority of those items may shift.  For example, when your children are young, you will need to devote more time and energy to their care than when they are in college.  Your career will require different things at twenty-five than at fifty-five.  Thinking of your full-life as a series of five-year chapters enables you to prioritize where to invest energy and effort.   What chapter are you in right now?  Are your current priorities aligned with your current chapter?
  3. Diversify your activities to avoid investing too much of yourself in one area.  If you invest too much of your identity and self-worth in one area, a loss or disappointment will hit you harder than if you have a more “balanced” portfolio. How diversified is your portfolio?  Where might you need to make a shift to reflect what you need now?
Being clear on what a full life means to you will make it easier to say yes to the things that matter – the things that feed your spirit.  More importantly, it will empower you to say “no” to the things that don’t matter.

Deb Hornell is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, consultant, mentor and gardener. Her new book, “Good Things for a Full Life”, contains 40 life lessons that have helped her build a satisfying life - full of the things she needs.  It can also help you discover what a “full life” means to you and how you can be more intentional in creating that life for yourself. For more information, visit her website at www.hornellpartners.com.

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