We are a generation that consumes life to the fullest, no compromise. We want a career, a family life, children and we want to keep a happy love life. All that in 24 hours during which 8 hours are generally spent sleeping. Result, we look at ourselves one morning, rings under our eyes, 35 years old, 1 or 2 children, a super job, a super house, family car and we say to ourselves: “I need a holiday”!
The art of surviving resides in our ability to balance or rebalance our life. In my work I hear of more and more young professionals preferring a slower career rise, indeed sometimes a lower salary so as not to resemble their boss or associate (twice divorced already, trembling at the idea of retirement…) and falling into the infernal spiral of social and professional success.
But how do we balance our agendas which are already full on the work-children side with the “me” side? We don’t have all the answers or the miracle remedies but here are some ideas on how to balance our goals.
The basic rule: Learn to say “no”
Know when to refuse a project which is too heavy or too demanding. Even if our short-term career must suffer, know your limits. Learn to say no to a meeting scheduled for 6.30pm on a Thursday. Learn to say no to a family Sunday brunch at Aunt Camille’s house. In other words try to think more about your own needs and be brave.
It is obvious that we could offer you a long list of things to do like taking regularly holidays, alone, with a partner or family…(if it is possible because the total of the three is equal to the number of regulation weeks holiday.) I personally think that the key to a successful balance in life lies in our capacity to fulfill our potential at work (yes, we work hard and give 100% while we are at work) but also personally (return home, please switch off the cell phone, put the laptop away and make the most of your time with your partner and/or children). There is no need to take your fax/modem plug-in, laptop and “big” file which you absolutely must read to the Caribbean. Easier said than done you will say, my career depends on my daily input. I will reply that professional success builds over time. A dazzling career led with beating drums can end very quickly if you end up in burn out (please go back to the hare and the tortoise story by Jean de la Fontaine, NB: You don’t need to identify with one or the other but understand the moral of the story). Knowing how to relax and take a step back can allow you to energize and feed your energy level: don’t forget that it is your physical and mental endurance which lets you pick up all challenges.
Without wanting to get into big philosophical and metaphysical contemplations ask yourself the question: “What am I aiming for?” “What is my ultimate goal?” Few people have the answers to these questions and are truly aware of what makes them progress.
Knowing yourself better is knowing your resources and your limits and therefore it allows us to effectively determine the ingredients for success in our professional and personal life. Certainly we have to make choices (which I know is sometimes painful) and invest in our human capital. (Just remember: “Slow and steady wins the race.”)