Sometimes, when it feels as though we are out of balance in our life and work, we are really just out of gas. The problem is not so much one of proportion as of passion, engagement, and enthusiasm. We are not out of balance with our commitments as much as we are running on empty when it comes to the things that are truly important. Sound familiar? Fortunately, the healing begins the moment we identify a dream worth pursuing. Read on to find out how.
Part of an unfulfilled Work / Life Balance is a sense that something is missing. That perhaps we are not getting what we truly want. Getting what we want is almost impossible if we haven’t first named our claim. At this point on our Work / Life Balance journey, we will ponder how it feels to know what we really want and why we need to know. We will explore how to connect with our passions large and small, old and new.
When we are not connected with our passions, our Work / Life Balance can feel like all work. In the extreme, it can seem like we are living someone else’s life. Apart from sensing that something is missing, things can feel like a chore and can leave us overwhelmed at times. Connecting with our passions is not a luxury; it is a necessity to achieve sustainable Work / Life Balance.
When we were young, most of us spent time dreaming of what we wanted to be and do. As we grew into adulthood, we gradually stopped dreaming as we were drawn further into the busyness of life. On the road to our ideal Work / Life Balance, it’s time to remember some of our old dreams and to discover some new ones.
As a young boy, I remember playing the English version of the American game of Monopoly•. Before the game had even started, we would always negotiate to be our favourite playing piece. Some people wanted to be the Race Car, others the Hat or the Horse or the Dog. My favourite was the Boot. We were all trying to be our favourite identity, and we played to get the things we wanted right from the start.
As the game progressed, we became clearer about naming what we wanted. In Monopoly, it was specific blocks of real estate, money, and status. For many of us not a lot has changed. Many people don’t know what they really want beyond material wealth and status, but have a growing sense there is more. As the game of life progresses, we start to get the feeling that our ideal balance may contain more dimensions. We get to become new identities like parents, friends, and colleagues and to pursue the things we want. Each of us must name those things for ourselves.
Dr. Phil McGraw, in his book Life Strategies, explains that we live in a world where the most we will ever get is what we ask for. And if we haven’t named what we want, we probably can’t even ask for it let alone expect someone else to help us get it. He say’s that this is true for our major life goals right down to our daily wants and needs and that “Not knowing what you want is a major problem for a number of reasons•Indecision leads to inaction. Inaction leads to results that you do not want.”
It is important to be careful in naming your claim. Many people spend a lifetime chasing things they believe they want. They make personal sacrifices, suffer frustrations, and work very hard. But what if the cost is greater than the reward? It is sad to see people reach their claim only to realise they are not happy and have traded time, happiness, and missed opportunities for it.
In today’s constantly changing world, the windows of opportunity open and close faster than ever before. Dr. Phil suggests that we pay attention to the time element associated with what we want. He says, “Opportunities for getting what you want are time-limited. They have a shelf-life that can and will expire.”
Many of us get caught up in the “I’ll be happy when•” trap. We defer people and things in our lives until we have more money, success or achievement. Deferring less important things to achieve those more important things is fine. However going without something is quite different from gambling with things we already have. Bringing a degree of urgency to getting clear on what we want can save us from missing an opportunity that is about to expire, like enjoying our kids grow up before they leave home, or giving our health, hobbies or vocation some attention.
Being urgent is not enough unless we are specific. Being specific increases our accuracy. When we know specific details about our claim, we are able to measure our progress. At any point in time, we can tell if we are moving toward what we want or away from it. We take actions, monitor our progress, welcome unexpected events (like the •Chance’ card in Monopoly) and make constant course and speed corrections with the flow of life toward what we want.
To become specific about what you want, try asking yourself important questions like these: When will you have what you want? What is happening right now that is helping you get it? What is missing? Who needs to help you? What will you do next? When will you do it? What will you feel like when you have it? What are you doing when you have it? What are others doing? These questions are not necessarily selfish or materialistic • they may help you define how you’ll do more charity work or be there for your kids or improve your skills or performance.
If you can’t answer all of these questions in detail, you are not ready to name your claim • and you are not alone. Dr. Phil puts it as only he can by saying, “It’s like trying a dozen keys in a lock, all of them wrong. Only the right key will do the trick. When you know what you want • how it looks, how it feels, and what experiences it contains • then you’re holding the right key.”
As we ponder the need to be specific, we move closer to discovering what really makes us happy and balanced. If we name our claim correctly, we connect with our passion, energy and excitement in that same moment. Whether they are minor daily activities that bring us joy or major life goals that compel us, they are all passions.
In her book The Art of Effortless Living, Dr. Ingrid Bacci describes real passion as being swept away by our inner vision. Being able to name our claim with clarity will reveal an inner vision that draws us forward, directing our choices and actions.
The opposite of inner vision and passion is fear. In the absence of passion, fear will also direct our choices and actions, but will seek to tighten its grip and trap us. Passion can erase fear • so why not pursue your passion? Dr. Bacci explains that passion will create commitment and that passion has the power to overcome the daily grind by transforming obstacles that stand in our way.
How, then, do you begin to name your claim?
Bill O’Hanlon, the author and psychotherapist who apprenticed with the great Dr. Milton Erickson (Bill started out as his gardener) gives us a clue. In Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot, Bill extends the idea of “Following your Bliss” by urging us to follow our “Bliss” and our “Piss”, to pursue not only what compels you or gives you soulful joy but also what offends or even wounds you. Being “righteously indignant” about something can lead you right to your passion. Bob Geldof’s Live Aid charity work comes to mind as a potent example of finding passion by following anger at injustice.
I went and asked Bill O’Hanlon what we could do if there was no obvious “Bliss” or “Piss” to follow regarding our major goals. His response was, “Just wait. If you do not have an inborn predilection, life often provides one. A tragedy happens; you see a television show that moves or intrigues you. Wait for your soul or deep insides to inform you what you are on the planet for. If you are alive and paying attention, it will signal you.”
I agree with Bill’s response and want to emphasis that we need to pay attention. Many people discover sources of passion but give up on them too early because they doubt themselves or let other people discourage them. Don’t quit if you are becoming inspired. Continue trying things out. They may not be your truest passion but they may well lead you toward it.
If you are uncomfortable asking for what you want, remember Dr. Phil’s observation that “the most you’ll ever get is what you ask for. Don’t aim too low, because if you do you could spend your life working for what you don’t want.” So, aim high but be realistic. There is no use dreaming of having a million dollars before you are thirty if it’s your thirtieth birthday next month, you have no job, and only $300 in the bank. The same goal with enough time, specific actions and commitment would be achievable. The idea is to name your claim with clarity, commitment, and realism.
Naming your claim is getting clear about what you want. It defines your ideal Work / Life Balance. A claim doesn’t always have to be a major life goal, it may be a simple everyday enjoyment. It can act as a magnet that draws you forward with passion, energy and excitement. Our next steps are to work on strategies and actions that help you step up and take your claim • no matter how large or small.
Coaching Inquiries: Does the game of Monopoly represent your ideal Work / Life Balance, or is there more to it? What bite-sized claims could you name today? What larger dreams could you reignite? What are the things that bliss and piss you? What opportunities are about to expire if you don’t catch them?
This Provision, and each Provision in our series on Work / Life Balance, is written by Michael J. Alafaci of www.SolutionMaps.com • Copyright Solution Maps 2005. All rights reserved. You can contact Mike by email or phone, in Australia, at 61-7-3311-5361.
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, Email Bob.
Mike’s Provision was a good start, right out of the chute! Anyone who reads and quotes Molly Ivins is connected to reality. Now Australia doesn’t seem so far away, if you are feeling a kinship with Texans.
Thank you for the Provision on Work / Life Balance. It certainly speaks to our situation here. I look forward to reading future issues in the series.
I love the new changes you’ve made with adding the poetry & recipes. Now I have even more interesting stuff on-the-go in my handheld to read anywhere, anytime. And the newest Provision on Work / Life Balance is so perfectly timed for me. Thanks!!
I have just come across your web reference to my work and the speech I gave a year ago at the CoachVille conference. I wanted to thank you for the acknowledgement and to congratulate on the work you do. Two spirits on one path. Blessings to you, Lance Secretan.
Your poem, Passion, is so inspirational that I am going to print it off and hang it in my office. Thank you so much!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services