I walked into a client’s office and written on the white board was, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” This quote by Dolly Parton, is a warning of sorts. It implies that it is easy to get caught up in our work and careers and sometimes we need to be able to take the time to work on other things; our relationship, our health, our own personal growth.
So why does this happen? Part of the answer is in the labels we use to describe ourselves. When it comes to our work or career, we generally have a pretty convenient label…our job title. When someone asks you what you do, you answer with a title such as Sales Manager. That title in itself, does two things. First off, assuming the person you are talking to knows of others that have the same or a similar title, then they will have an overall impression of what it is you do. Secondly, you will also have an impression of what holding that title means. There will be certain expectations that you put on yourself around holding that position.
For example, if you believe in holding a management position means working long hours, then you will work the number of hours you believe necessary to fulfill your obligation in holding the title. If you believe it requires you to be available for anything that could possibly come up, then you will do the things you need to do to make sure you are available; frequently check your emails, ensure you have cell phone reception at the place you are staying, set up evening calls with critical staff, etc.
Labels work well in the business world. From the time we start our careers, we get conditioned to what holding a specific title means and in essence, our behavior matches the image we hold in our minds. So what about the images we have for things like being a great partner, being healthy and strong or in what we want to achieve. Unfortunately, this is where we short change ourselves, simply because we let the comfort of our job titles become what guides our behavior.
In order to change the balance, it requires you to get clear on what it means to hold a different label. It requires you to actively build what it means to be something different; a great parent, a loving partner, a world traveler, etc.
- Identify a new label…in essence a new job title. For example, a great partner.
- Think about that new label as if it were the only job you had and identify what would you be doing if this were the case. For example, I would make time each day to touch base and connect with my partner.
- Commit to doing the little things, as if this really were a job you were being paid to do.
It takes more than saying you should or want to find more balance. It requires you to find those empowering labels and then building your own story around what those mean to you. It doesn’t require you to do everything at once, however in order to make progress, you need to know where you want to go. Define your labels!!!