I struggle with balance, I would bet, more than most. I tend to fixate on the bright and shiny object of the moment, until I am dragged away kicking and screaming by other priorities. I don’t think it’s entirely a bad thing. It is a hallmark of my Type A, passionate personality. Without that, I wouldn’t be Melanie, but I do need to find a way to balance all that passion out evenly among the important areas of my life. So that’s my personal project right now. To make it more challenging, I have more going on in my life right now than ever before. 24 hours is scarcely enough time to get everything done that is expected of me in a single day.
So here is how I am currently approaching it and things are improving at an incredible rate.
First, I spent a year working with my life coach, Kenny, who introduced me to the concept of the life pie. He encouraged me to draw a pie to allocate my focus on a finite group of priorities. These are things like family (husband, kids and extended family), friends, career, hobbies, health, spirituality and personal growth. I wrote down what they are. Then I was able to develop a personal mission from that. What am I about? What was I put on earth to do with regards to each of these focus areas. Then I decided how much of my focus should be spent on each area. It was an incredibly simple idea which revolutionized the way I approach my day.
The other idea he gave me was about life seasons. Naturally, sometimes the priorities you’ve decided upon are going to become out of balance. In different seasons of your life you will become focused more on some areas than others. Let’s say you are launching a new product and you have to work long hours for a couple weeks or even months, or maybe you’ve decided to train for an Ironman and your training is consuming a huge part of your free time. It is only a season in your life. You are doing this big push in a certain area for a finite amount of time and it’s temporary. You haven’t changed your pie, but right now it’s messed up. The best way is to plan for these seasons and to address it ahead of time with the people in your life as well as to decide what can slip in other areas of your pie TEMPORARILY.
I learned that lesson the hard way. I trained for a half ironman at a time in my life when my focus needed to be on my marriage and on the business I own with my husband. It caused a lot of friction and some important things did not get done. I blamed my husband for objecting. I felt like he was holding me back. He was still there to support me at the race, but he would have preferred that I waited until a better time. I was in such a hurry to get this notch in my belt, that I ignored his pleas to wait until another time. He wasn’t saying I couldn’t do it. He was saying “get THIS done first, and then go crazy training when the time is right.”
So now I am looking at my pie and my personal mission as a daily guide. It isn’t absolute, because life has a funny way of trampling all over our priorities for the day. But with this guide, I am able to make decisions about the kind of projects I take on, the commitments I make and yes even the races I sign up for. Since I like to dabble and have my hand in a lot of things, this is invaluable for me. I need this guidepost. Faced with competing projects or priorities, I can now just ask myself (daily), “does this fit what I have set out to do? How will being involved in this particular project or task serve the areas that I have already decided are my priorities?” If it doesn’t fit, then I must say no. This may disappoint other people. But if I go back to my personal mission, I can be ok with that, because I know what I was put on earth to do, who I am here to serve and that I am making forward movement by being selective in what I take on. Somebody else out there is better suited to carry out that project or that task. God will put it in their capable hands. I can’t worry about disappointing others with these decisions.