Leave the Dishes

Work Life Balance: Establishing a Wheel of Expectations

As I write this, there is a sink full of dirty dishes in my kitchen. The hamper of laundry is overflowing and there is a week’s worth of mail, waiting to be opened. It has not been a great week for housework, but it’s been a great week for my business.

We have more responsibilities than ever before; our day jobs, passion projects, family, friends, and household obligations pull us in several different directions. We try so hard to succeed at everything, and yet, there are days we feel like we can’t seem to accomplish anything. We’re encouraged to “lean in,” “say yes,” and embrace every opportunity that comes our way. It’s exhausting and stressful.

I don’t believe it’s possible to “have it all” and I don’t think there is such a thing as perfecting a work-life balance. Instead, I see it as a wheel of expectations:

Despite what this pie chart may indicate, these responsibilities don’t take up equal portions of our lives. There are weeks where we’re pulling all-nighters at the office and there are others when the kids are out of school or family has come to visit, and you take time off to be with them. There are weeks when you are focused on launching your new blog or releasing a new product, and there are others when the HVAC breaks, the cable goes out, or you have tend to your unruly yard. Seldom do these demands present themselves equally.

That’s why I don’t view this as a pie chart, but as a wheel that spins from week to week. Your attention can be focused on 1-2 sections of the wheel at a time, but try to add more to your plate, and the system breaks down. You can’t put in 80 hours at the day job week after week and not have the other parts of your life suffer. You also can’t play hooky every week to spend time with your kids or work on your side hustle without risking losing your day job. In order to feel like you’re succeeding and not neglecting any of these areas, the wheel has to rotate, week after week.

That’s why I’m leaving the dishes and the laundry and the stack of mail. This week, my wheel is set on my day job and my passion project. We have a number of new PR clients and I’m managing our new e-course launch. That’s where I’m putting my attention. Next week, I’ll get back to keeping a clean house, cooking dinner for my family, maybe even getting to the gym for more than a quick 20 minutes on the stationary bike while I read a client’s manuscript.

Take a look at your own wheel. Has it been stuck in one place for a few weeks? What happens if, this week, you spin it?

This is the last week to register for the 7 Steps to Launching Your Personal Brand e-course. Registration closes 2/17. And it doesn’t matter if your wheel isn’t set to your passion project or career development this week; once you sign up, you’ll have the course for life.

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