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While many external factors affect work-life balance, the internal battles we fight are often the most challenging. Here's how I propose to change that.
With the New Year come many potential changes. Perhaps the greatest and most difficult changes are those we seek to make within ourselves. While many external factors affect work-life balance, the internal battles we fight are often the most challenging whether that's mom (or dad) guilt, difficulty turning off our cell phone or e-mail on vacation "just in case," or the hopeless feeling that we will never achieve any type of balance.
January is a great time to reassess, re-evaluate, and re-prioritize. Even if we've failed for the past two decades, it is time once again to embark on the journey of self-improvement. I challenge my readers to conduct motivational interviewing with themselves to plan a small, attainable goals, identify potential barriers, and brainstorm how to address those barriers. I'll go first!
Goal No. 1:
Old unrealistic goal: Do not ever answer an emotionally charged e-mail with another e-mail.
New potentially realistic goal: Wait until my heart stops beating fast (or 24 hours - whichever comes later) before deciding on the best way to respond (which is usually a simple e-mail asking when we can talk in person or on the phone).
Barriers: My strong inclination to defend, deflect, or respond.
Overcoming the barriers: Conjure a time when I did respond emotionally and things went poorly.
Goal No. 2:
Old unrealistic goal: Take 10 or 15 minutes after I get home from work to transition from work mode to home mode.
New potentially realistic goal: Take three deep breaths after I park the car in the garage to mentally let work stuff go - writing those burning issues on a to-do list in case I forget - before I enter my home.
Barriers: Work stuff is hard to let go and I often forget to take those deep breaths.
Overcoming the barriers: Keep a Post-it note in my car and my to-do notebook on the front seat to make me remember, and to make it easier to go through the act of writing things down.
Goal No. 3:
Old unrealistic goal: Keep work at work and home at home.
New potentially realistic goal: Make myself more available at home. I am going to keep "office hours" in the living room after dinner, so that I am physically present for my husband and kids. No electronic distractions allowed.
Barriers: It's really hard not to just check my e-mail or find something "important" to do.
Overcoming the barriers: I am hoping doing this a few times will be so rewarding that it will serve as its own motivation.
As you know, I am already more likely to succeed because I wrote it down and identified the barriers. Now, it's your turn. I would love to hear what my readers' resolutions are.