I have spent years working with the understanding that exceeding expectations, goals and creating new ideas that would grow business would bring me to the “place” I want to be! I’ve been told “your standards are too high”, “you’re ahead of the curve” or you need to “slow down and allow others to catch up”. This left me feeling deflated and confused. I mean, who doesn’t want the very best NOW? I was sure to get a rude awakening!
Great work is NOT enough! We should get to know ourselves so that we can fully realize our potential. A couple of years ago, I asked those who were closest to me about their thoughts. They responded with things like “you are driven”, “you work tirelessly to make things happen”, “you make it look easy”, “you are creative and find solutions where others don’t”. This all sounded great! I mean, hey who wouldn’t want me on their team, right? Then it sunk in….not one of them mentioned that I was a good mom or a mentor or that I served others. They did not mention that I am good at a hobby or that I help in my community. Remember that rude awakening I mentioned? Exactly.
This made me stop and think about what to do next. I sat quietly and tried to remember the last time I took a class for personal growth, took a vacation that didn’t result in work, read a good book that was not work related, or did anything that was not work related. How did this impact me and those around me? So, for the next two years, I went to work – on me. Oh sure, I had work to do for the company I worked with, but the real work was with me. I wanted to be better at both - work and life! Here are a few things I’ve learned:
Be true to you. Outcomes are not what is “supposed” to happen. It’s not what your family or your colleagues think you should be doing. It isn’t all about work. It IS about work and life and what you really want to make happen overall, in your life.
Embrace your purpose. If you are ambitious you are going to work very hard and focus on your career. So instead of finding balance, embrace your purpose. You’ll be glad you did!
Welcome the conflict. There will be inherent conflict in fitting your work into your life. Understand that you don’t have to improve everything at once. You can make intentional decisions about how you spend your time and whether it is amounting to anything. With intentional decision-making, you can proactively avoid wasting time stuck in a job that is not helping you.
Avoid wasting your time. Ask yourself, is what I am doing moving me to achieve my goals for work AND life?
It’s not always a competition. This was a difficult one for me. I’ve scored 100% competitive on every assessment I have ever taken! But let’s face it, if work must compete with life, and life to compete with work…nobody wins.
It’s up to YOU to be OK! It is important to figure out how to not be fully consumed and burned out. I assure you that your company wants you to have a happy life outside of work.
Reach out! When I felt ready and willing to dive deeper, I hired a professional Coach. Working with a professional coach has brought clarity to who I am as a professional, a mother, a wife, a friend, a mentor, and an entrepreneur! I’d recommend it, seriously!
I believe it is important to step back and think about what you really want. Real success is personal, it is not what anyone else wants or expects from you. By getting to work on you so that you can fully realize your potential, you will come to accept yourself, embrace your purpose and be better at work AND life.
By: Michelle Cole, MA and Lisa Lopez, MPA