Don’t balance. Blend!
By Maureen McCann.
“Many career practitioners struggle to find a balance between their family and their career.”
Yikes! Even as I write that sentence, I cringe. What is this elusive ‘balance’ that people refer to?
In his book Who’s Got Your Back, author Keith Ferrazzi writes about the idea of living a blended life, not a balanced one. “The elements you see in [your life] aren’t individual territories or fiefdoms. They should, and will, overlap!”
This got me thinking about how often I struggle to balance my own life. Whether it’s coaching a six-figure executive through a career transition, getting my butt outside to run when it’s -20 degrees, remembering to pack a lunch for my 4-year-old and the diaper bag for my 18-month-old, or finding time to go skiing or sailing, I have to stop looking at these things as separate from one another. They make up one key element – my life.
My take on Ferrazzi’s advice is this: stop trying to balance a myriad of unconnected goals from different areas of life, whether they involve family, finances, fitness, career, or love. Instead, blend your goals into one incredibly fulfilling and rewarding life.
So that’s what I’ve been doing: finding ways to blend activities in my life to make it the most rewarding and fulfilling it can be! The following are some of my cherished secrets – the things I’ve learned that make my life a little easier to ‘blend’.
LOSE THE DRAMA
Whatever it is that’s taking your focus away from the things you want to accomplish in life, drop it! Tough as it sounds, it’s time to let that annoying or frustrating person in your life – even if it’s you – know that you are tired of listening to the complaints about bosses, kids, spouse, and/or the supermarket cashier.
It’s time to choose happiness over drama. Making this choice may mean choosing to spend less time with the source of your frustration. You might instead seek out the company of people who can motivate you, inspire you, or open you up to a whole new way of thinking.
Choosing who will surround you is as important as being open to new people in your surroundings. When you encircle yourself with the best people, it’s almost like osmosis; they bring out the very best in you. Imagine how great that will feel!
GET THE SUPPORT YOU NEED
My colleague Linda Schnabel speaks about the importance of asking for help. She remarks about the significance of moral, referral, strategic, financial, and family support. We all need a little help from time to time; and having a strong support network will encourage you to move well beyond your situation, in pursuit of excellence.
People want to help you. It’s true. If given the opportunity to help someone close to you, you would, wouldn’t you? You might be surprised at how often we have access to the things we want within our own network (think: hockey tickets, job interview, introduction to the nice neighbour down the street), but because we don’t ask for them, we don’t receive them.
Similar to the law of attraction principle (you have to know what you’re after and ‘put it out there’), you have to get your message to the people closest to you – ask, guide, coach, explain, inform – let your contacts know how they can help you.
BE INSPIRED BY OTHERS
As a skier, I know that if I want to improve, I need to challenge myself by skiing with people who are one or two levels (or more) above me. By watching, following, and imitating these skiers, I learn so much. Doing this one small thing encourages me to push myself to go further, turn faster, ski steeper runs than I might if I were skiing alone.
A while ago, I watched Alex Bilodeau win Canada’s first Olympic gold medal at home. He inspired me to reach for my goals, strive for more, and excel in what I do.
Now switch gears and imagine yourself being the inspiration. It doesn’t matter if it’s skiing, skating, running, or pursuing your career dreams – you can be the one doing the inspiring. Look for opportunities to do so.
ANSWER THE CALL
I strongly admire Lydia Fernandes creator of the RedSphere Network. Lydia initially reached out to me through Twitter, using a direct message (DM) to make a personal connection. We then arranged to meet over phone, and subsequently, she asked me to participate as a contributor. She asked that I write two articles and share my story with each of you. Sure I was busy (who isn’t). However, Lydia asked! And I admire that – so I said “YES I’d love to participate – what do you need from me? “
Many of my closest strategic partnerships have started over a cup of coffee, a telephone call, or an email. I’ve learned that when someone wants to meet you – say yes! You never know how valuable this connection may become!
SAGE ADVICE FROM MOM
Just days before my wedding, my mother sat me down and told me: “Maureen, he’ll never make you happy”. My mom always knew how to get my attention and, that day, she had it! Shocked, I could feel my heart pounding. I was about to launch into a combination of defence/offense when she continued, “…because that’s not his job, it’s yours.”
Ten years later – and still married – that advice reminds me to continue to seek the things that make me happy. Being the master of my own happiness is empowering. Knowing it is my job to have a great life and be the kind of person I want to be, means keeping myself accountable for the excuses I make when life gets difficult.
When my life is not working for me, there is only one person to blame: ME! I’m the common denominator in everything that happens in my life, and it’s pointless to point the finger outward.
It’s your job to make yourself happy. No one will do it for you – not your spouse, your kids, your best friend, or your boss. It’s you, just you.
 Ferrazzi, Keith. Who’s Got Your Back. 1st Ed. New York: Random House, Inc. 2009.
Maureen McCann is an award-winning, inspiring, and resourceful master certified resume strategist and career consultant, and senior advisor for Career Professionals of Canada. As the owner and principle consultant of ProMotion Career Solutions Maureen works with professionals who find themselves stuck in unsatisfying careers. You can contact Maureen and find more information at www.mypromotion.ca