Wellness Pathway #284 The Inside / Outside Balance

On Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2006) I read a fascinating story in The Washington Post called “The Inside Out Solution. Written by Douglas LaBier, a psychotherapist and business psychologist who heads the Center for Adult Development in Washington, DC, the article addresses the elusive quest for life / work balance.

LaBier writes that “people are framing the problem incorrectly. There is no way to balance work and home, because they exist on the same side of the scale — what I consider the ‘outer’ part. On the other side of the scale is their personal, private life — the ‘inner’ person. I encourage clients not to think about balancing work life and home life, but to balance outer life and inner life.”

LaBier goes on to explain what he means. “On the outer side of the scale you have the complex logistics and daily stresses of life at both work and home — the errands, family obligations, phone calls, to-do lists, e-mails and responsibilities that fill your days. Outer life is what’s on the daily planner, Palm or BlackBerry.”

“On the other side of the scale is the inner you: private thoughts and values, emotions, fantasies, spiritual or religious practices, the capacity to love, a sense of purpose. Our culture does little to acknowledge or nurture this aspect of our lives. You probably keep much of your inner life hidden from others, even those you are closest to. You may even keep it hidden from yourself.”

“The good news,” he concludes, is that “reframing your challenge from trying to balance work and home to balancing your inner and outer lives will help you deal with all aspects of life — and build overall health and well-being.”

LaBier could very well be writing a case statement for coaching. If coaches do anything we assist clients to align their “private thoughts and values, emotions, fantasies, spiritual or religious practices, the capacity to love, a sense of purpose” with their outer lives. As a result, we see the very changes that LaBier writes about when he identifies the impact of strengthening your inner life:

“In the work realm, you might end up reexamining what you’re doing — whom you work for and with, and what your work contributes to the things you value. At the most radical end, you could change employers or careers, or go out on your own to pursue a dream. Or you can seek new assignments with your current employer that align with your personal values and goals.”

“In your home and personal life, a stronger inner life might lead you to give some time to help others, say through volunteer work. Or get involved with a social or political cause you believe in. You might decide to take that music appreciation course you’ve considered for years, or finally build that backyard garden you’ve seen in your imagination.”

“As you develop your inner life and balance it with your outer,” LaBier concludes, “you’ll be likely to find that the old conflicts of work vs. life don’t cause you stress or even dominate your thoughts anymore. In fact, you may find they disappear.”

Coaching Inquiries: How well do you balance your inner and outer lives? What works for you? Do you have a sense of integrity about who you are and what you do? About your core values and your primary time commitments? Who could assist you to get the inner and outer worlds in sync?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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