Work/Life Balance: Intimacy, Purpose and Values
Intimacy is the first casualty of success.
You and your partner/spouse can't find time to be together in a leisurely way, much less visit with friends and extended family. You're smart. You've tried. It isn't happening.
The kids? You love 'em but what a hassle. Home is a combat zone. Everybody wants a piece of you. There's an Endless List from the time you say "Hello!" at night until the next morning when you say "Good-bye". Family life is chaotic, a nightmare.
You work hard to give those you love what they want and need, yet there is never enough time. You live in the right neighborhood. Your kids go to the right schools. You have a housekeeper, a gardener--or at least a "blow and go" guy. Everyone in the family is well dressed and well coifed.
You buy toys appropriate to your status in life: A boat, the car of the year, new skis or snow board, membership at a health club, hot roller blades, a place in the country--You name it. It all looks so good. But the Endless List never gets shorter. And ...
The boat seldom leaves the slip, though you pay the bills to keep it there. The car usually takes you to work and the airport: The country house seems too far for a weekend getaway. The skis and snow board? Get real! Twice, maybe three times a year. The gym is one more pressure, a race to get through your work-out so you can get back to work.
At first glance this has the look and feel of a time management problem. You tell yourself: "I need to clarify my goals, work harder, longer. I love my spouse/partner, family and friends but there's not enough time." Well, maybe it isn't about time management. Maybe it's a spiritual issue, about what am I here for? Isn't there a reason? Doesn't someone know why you are here on earth?
Yes. You do. But, like Alice in Wonderland, you're running so fast just to stand still that you don't have time to figure it out.
Look around you. There are people who set aside time to walk and chat with their friends. They work full time, earn big bucks, attend to aging parents and children. They get to the soccer games, bake cookies (I know a father who does this, from scratch), gather for festivities throughout the year.
They partner in taking care of the children. Dad gets his preschooler up and dressed. They do the breakfast thing and play awhile before he diapers the young one who then goes into Dad and Mom's bed for nursing. (Mom is getting a little extra rest: She nurses during the night.)
Yes, Dad did read the paper and have his shower. He is shaved when he walks out the door. But, he's a hands-on Dad because he wants his children to know him as more than a bill-payer. So does the middle aged executive-Dad who makes cookies.
Another example. A scientist, mother of four, supervised a team of eight, generated about four published papers a year, traveled abroad three or four times a year to give lectures in three languages, kept in touch with her eight siblings and aging parents, as well as friends and other relatives. In the days when letters were written by hand, she maintained a copious correspondence throughout many parts of the world with colleagues, friends, relatives.
Yes, she had daily help, several hours a day when the children were little. But she did not lose touch with her husband and family. She bakes her own bread, makes her own jam, keeps a vegetable garden, is a great cook. She did those things as a young mother and does them now.
She kept the cultural fires burning, encouraged her children to learn the "old" language and traditions from the past, which they did. Professionally, she is major success. Governments have honored her. A television program was produced about her life. She was elected to the American Academy of Scientists. She is the sine qua non of friends: I can attest to that. Her now-adult children cherish her. So?
So, there are people who "find time" ... But, usually they know who they are, why they are here (purpose), and what values they will not compromise. Can you say right now, quickly and confidently, what your purpose in life is? If not, maybe a good investment would be for you to slow down and get a little coaching so that you are not just someone who is always busy, "successful" and absolutely on the wrong path.