I am human like everyone else. I try. I strive. I fail. I lapse. I start over. I achieve. I learn. I share. My life, like many others, is a work in progress. As a business owner, single mother to a 12 year old son, practicing yogi, dog owner and community volunteer, I am often asked, "How do you do it all? How do you achieve that ever illusive work/life balance?" My answer - Integration.
Moving From Either/Or to And
When I stopped trying to compartmentalize my life into "work" and "life" and viewed everything as part of "life," I started to make progress toward achieving balance. I began asking myself how I could integrate all of my values, priorities and interests that were present in my life and learned that instead of making either/or choices, I needed to shift my thinking to using "and" in my strategy.
I asked myself, "How can I serve the community through participating in volunteer work and spend time with my son? I found the perfect solution through the Make A Wish Orange County/Inland Empire organization. The a charity allowed me to involve my son as a co-volunteer while making a difference in the world.
Applying My Education
Applying that same concept of integrating "and" into the decision making process, when I decided to pursue my master's degree in the late 90's, I asked myself, "How can I continue to work full time and enhance my education and professional development?" I found that Brandman University was my answer.
Although I describe this period of my life as one of the busiest, I also view it as the most fulfilling. I graduated with my Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree, which in part has led me to move my business, J9 Leading Solutions, forward. Our team's mission is to help individuals grow as leaders, teams learn and organizations improve productivity and profit. The best part about my education was that with every concept I was learning, I could turn around the next day and apply it at work. I did not view these as competing areas in my life, but complementary ones that could be integrated together. I am proud to now serve as the President of Brandman University's Alumni Association and look forward to welcoming new members into our community.
Creating an Integrated Life
I have learned a lot in the process of balancing my personal and professional goals. Here are a few things that help me create a balanced an integrated life. My hope is that they are tips that work in your own:
- Keep your energy levels up. Get plenty of rest, physical activity and eat nutritional meals and healthy snacks.
- Stop sitting so much. Stand while you talk on the phone, invite someone to a walking meeting rather than at the local bagel shop.
- Raise your level of awareness. Be present and notice what is happening in the moment.
- Don't over schedule. Leave some blank time on your calendar so there is "room" for the unknown.
- Be clear about boundaries and don't over commit. Place a high value on your time and make sure you are spending it wisely.