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Octopus Balance: Insights on the Myths and Realities of Life Balance

May 30, 2008
Jeanette was a typical go-getter who wanted it all. Mother to three children, owner of a thriving consulting firm to Fortune 500 companies, chairman of her industry association and wife to a successful doctor. Jeanette had goals, dreams and visions of a billion dollar company but there was just one problem.

Jeanette was chronically exhausted and couldn't grow her business to the next level.

Her days started around 5:30 am and ended around midnight. Between client meetings, homework and school activities for the kids, and fitting in time to balance her check book, Jeanette barely had time to shower and brush her teeth, let alone eat a balanced meal or exercise. She was desperately trying to balance all of her priorities but always ended up feeling torn, depressed and like a failure. Inevitably, some area of her life was crashing and burning.

In our first coaching conversation, I asked Jeanette what her immediate goal was."Life balance", she said.

"With everything on your plate, is that ever going to be possible?" I asked her.

Silence. More silence. Sounds of holding back tears. More silence.

Bingo!

For most people on this planet, the idea of life balance is a complete fantasy. Somehow many of us try to manage our lives like an octopus, balancing eight things when we only have room for two, with nothing winning and everything losing. There is always way more to do than there is time in the day. Priorities can fill a yellow-pad and yet time is limited.

How does someone who is super busy ever create life balance? Reality check: you don't!

People who are able to create a lifestyle-business don'tt have a magic pill. A freedom-based lifestyle occurs with a constant evaluation of priorities followed by discipline, tough choices and focused resolution to always say yes to the best options that are aligned with our desired outcome.

Typically, something must lose our attention to win our desired outcome. Which leads me to one of my favorite sayings:

Everything you say yes to means you must say no to something else.

In an October 2004 issue of Fast Company Magazine, the author of article 'Balance is Bunk!' makes a bold statement: Many of us live by a horrible myth that -- by making a few compromises we can have it all, that is all wrong and is making many of us crazy!

My personal philosophy is life is a constant series of choices.

Some days work gets more attention, other days my spiritual practice, on others I carve out sacred time for my friendships and treasure every second. There are days I get all my exercise and other days when I barely can catch my breath between coaching calls. Unlike the octopus who can balance multiple things at one time, we truly can'tt. The brain can only really handle 5 plus or minus 2 chunks of data at one time. Anything more and overwhelm sets in.

You know your life is working if you are happy. If you are spending time on what's important to you. When you are achieving your desired goals.

If you want something else to fit into your life then say NO to something that is a lesser payoff. Or outsource it to someone who can do it faster, cheaper or better than you while you focus on your bigger, and more joyful, opportunities.

I'd like to share a coaching challenge with you from our Fast Track to a 6 & 7 Figure Lifestyle Business Mastermind program. I think of it as an octopus recovery technique and I encourage you to explore this new strategy this week.
1. Identify just one thing that you'd like more of in your life
2. Determine how much time you would need for it
3. Identify what you would be willing to STOP doing to make room for it
4. What will you do to eliminate it from your task list
oDelegate it. Outsource it to someone else.
oDelay it. Reschedule it to a future time.
oDelete it. Just get that it doesn't serve you anymore and get rid of it.
5. Schedule the new event/opportunity/task into the new free time in your calendar (before something else shows up and takes your time away.)

If life balance is a myth, then priority management seems to be the key. Be willing to make the choices every day for what truly serves you, your family and the world around you. It's the best short-cut to happiness and fulfillment that I know!
About the Author
Melanie Benson Strick, Million Dollar Lifestyle Business Coach, teaches entrepreneurs how to stop feeling overwhelmed so they can create more money, freedom and prestige. Revolutionize your results with a free chapter from, The Power of The Virtual Team, at http://www.thepowerofthevirtualteam.com
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