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August 8, 2012

“Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” ~ John Lennon

Seeking philosophical alignment at work, home, and in the community.

The more consistently we live in harmony with our values, the more peace and contentment we experience. We’ve all read articles on how to establish a work family balance. Some of the usual suggestions are:

1) Limit your work overtime and don’t go in on weekends

2) Make “dates” with your partner and your children

3) Schedule family time as carefully as you schedule your appointments.

All of these suggestions are based on the illusion that we have control over our daily lives and ignore all the times when we experience circumstances or situations that are not optional: illness befalling you or someone in your family, a period for your partner when he or she is under severe deadlines and stress and you can only be supportive and pick up extra tasks at home, or a time when you are facing project deadlines and are short-staffed or unable to meet your goals without putting in extra time at the office.

The key to a balanced life is not found in Microsoft Outlook or your day planner.

If it were, the pile of old day planners in my office, all of which have “planned” times for exercise and meditation, underlined and sometimes highlighted with a fluorescent marker, would constitute a record of my successes. Instead, they provide examples of how often my schedule has been rewritten by circumstances. Yes, there are times when I ignore those appointments with my self and choose to do something else.

Like many of us, I often find it easier to put other people’s needs ahead of my own need for quiet time, exercise, and good self-care. I have struggled over the years to recognize that I can’t be my best for others without taking care of myself. Like the airlines say, “put your own oxygen mask on first.”

The late Stephen Covey said it is important to schedule your priorities rather than prioritizing your schedule and he was so right. However, even someone as wise as Covey must have experienced many times when the schedule was tossed to the wind as the demands of the moment required a response.

A balanced life is not achieved externally. It is an internal state. It is a sense of being in balance with your values. When we’re listening to our inner wisdom and striving for consistency in how we handle the moments, whether we are at work, at home, or with other people, we experience harmony. We are the balance.

No matter what life throws at us, and no matter what our initial reaction might be, we can move past it and ultimately choose how we will respond.

We decide whether this is a time when we want to invest more of our time and energy at work or whether it’s time for a family vacation. Instead of feeling controlled by events and letting ourselves complain that we “have no choice,” we can choose to take a few minutes, breathe deeply, and go into our core. Our spirit is like a gyroscope, always seeking to return to balance. We can’t control time, but we can get out of our own way and experience the harmony of being in alignment with our inner wisdom.

Read the other articles in this series:

Using Respect to Create a Mindful Business.

The Importance of Empathy in Business.

The Importance of Listening.

The Importance of Persistence & Patience.

Why We Need to Avoid Rationalization.

The Importance of Embracing Change.

Be a Lifelong Learner.

Live as You Want to be Remembered.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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