by Anise D. Wiley-Little
Finding balance in our busy lives can be an ongoing challenge. Many of us juggle multiple responsibilities that require us to prioritize our personal and work-related obligations.
Believe it or not, I have learned how to achieve balance among the competing interests in my life. I simply focused on and committed to those things that I considered to be important. Once I accomplished this task, I found that balance happened naturally for me. As a direct result, I became more productive and better able to fulfill my potential in every phase of my life.
My life (like the lives of many others) comprises four major inter-connected quadrants: family and relationships, spirituality, health and work. By identifying the things that I value in each of these areas, I have been able to capture that elusive balance.
Family and Relationships
A few weeks ago, I noticed that my son was scurrying around, worriedly uttering in a very high-pitched voice, “Oh, no—we’re late. Hurry, hurry?do you have everything you need?” When I asked him what he was doing, he responded, “Just being you today.” That was my reminder to slow down and follow the schedule of family activities that I had carefully mapped out for the day.
It all works if you just take it one step at a time, plan well and have a good sense of humor. The people closest to you will keep you grounded; they are your allies when things get hectic or go wrong. Take the time to nurture your relationships with them. Their love and support will provide the foundation that you need to achieve and maintain balance.
Spirituality is a very personal and uniquely different experience for different people. In whatever way that it manifests itself in your life, use it as a source of renewal and rejuvenation. Whether it is connecting with a higher power, nature or humanity, spirituality can add much needed calm to your busy life. Let this sense of peace spread to the other areas of your life. Let it reinvigorate you.
Health and Well-being
Taking the time to exercise, eat right and get regular medical check-ups helps us maintain the energy and stamina that we need to keep up with our busy lives. Depending on age, our bodies require specific levels of care. Our bodies are capable of only so much; when we abuse them by not getting enough sleep or exercise, eating and drinking unhealthy foods and beverages or not following doctor’s orders, we run the risk of our bodies rebelling against us.
I learned this, firsthand, after a recent family vacation. A couple of months ago, I returned to work after enjoying a beautiful and relaxing vacation in the Caribbean with my family. I was recounting my vacation fun to two colleagues over lunch, when suddenly I began to black out. I became confused and disoriented.
My colleagues got me to the emergency room; I was in the hospital for several days. The doctor told me that I had experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA). TIA is a mini-stroke that begins to repair itself almost immediately, with no lasting affects. However, it puts you at greater risk of having a full stroke. I could not believe that this had happened to me; I thought I was doing everything right. My body knew better.
After this health scare, I redoubled my efforts with regard to exercise and healthy eating. Now I’m on the right track. Poor health exacts a heavy toll on every aspect of your life. Take care of your mental and physical well-being. Remember, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.
The work quadrant is the area that tends to spiral out of control for many people. High pressure, deadline-driven jobs make it extremely difficult to maintain balance and equilibrium with the other quadrants in your life. Work responsibilities tend to encroach on other areas. One way to prevent this from happening is to choose a career that you love and that complements your lifestyle.
Whether that means going into business for yourself or carving out a manageable niche in corporate America, make sure that your work fits with the other quadrants of your life. Of course, there will always be times when you have to put in some overtime or travel time, in order to get your job done. Just don’t let work overtake everything else in your life.
Anise D. Wiley-Little is assistant Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Allstate Insurance Company. Under her leadership, Allstate has been recognized for its diversity efforts by a variety of organizations including Working Mother magazine, Latina Style and Essence magazine.