You may have seen this video, The Great Realisation, the telling of a bedtime story about how we got here and why hindsight is 2020. Whatever our personal experience, collectively, we will always remember this time in history we're all experiencing together. Just as our kids will grow up impacted by parents who worked from home, if it was possible, as students with school closures experienced distance learning in a time of great uncertainty.
I love the free e-book by John Burgerman (Everybody Worries - A Picture Book for Children Who are Worried About Coronavirus) as it was inspired to help kids and families at this time deal with the uncertainty worry brings. The message is not only that it's human to worry; there are simple ways we can practice resilience and has great reminders not only for kids, for us adults as well. As a society we may have had a lot to worry about before this moment in time with the demands on our time and attention through ever-present technology, our energy and capacity personally and professionally perhaps has never been greater. Yet we've now reached a new level of demand and energetic expenditure carrying more ambiguity than we've experienced before collectively.
As a working mom, I have felt like many leaders I coach, worry about whether I'm doing enough to homeschool my kids, providing the level of structure and support they need to keep learning and feel connected. As a leadership and well-being coach, I feel a sense of meaning in my work knowing what I do each day affects the well-being of leaders and their teams. Often coaching clients want coaching around "balance" to be at their best for their family, their team, clients and to live a fulfilling life. Prior to our current state, people associated balance with the flexibility to work from home, flex their schedule to be physically closer to family, or attend activities they care about. Though now that all who can work from home have experienced what it’s like to do with office buildings closed or changing how offices are used, creating balance in what's next is taking on new meaning.
Balance as a State of Being
While we focus on flexibility or time allocation as a way to create work/life balance now that everything is completely integrated, how would you create balance as a state of being?
Simply flexing our work schedule or working from home physically, doesn't mean we’re present, focused or that we feel balanced at all. Embodying balance is more than noticing where our thoughts are when we’re distracted. Not judging our thoughts and intentions in the moment of what we want to focus on -whether it’s the worry on our mind, the emotions we have, the task at hand or interaction we’re in, moment to moment. People are starting to realize that where we are physically doesn’t matter if we are mentally distracted or emotionally triggered, which can have an unintentional impact on our relationships and work.
We can’t change what we don’t notice and simply “leaving work” or “unplugging” as we walk away from our laptop at a certain time may leave us with an illusion of balance, yet never really experiencing what we seek.
Ask yourself, what makes me feel balanced or aligned with what I care about, especially in these times of ambiguity, challenge and uncertainty?
This unique time in history asks us to pause and reflect to gain our own realizations:
- What do I want to hold onto as we emerge from this time that's working for you?
- How am I living my life in a way that aligns with my values and what I care about?
- How can I feel more of what I want to feel? (what quality of energy)
- What rituals or practices help me feel this way?
- What would my future self (20 years from now) say I should prioritize right now?
- What am I grateful for in my life that I've created?
I feel a sense of gratitude for being able to spend more time with my kids with the forced slow down of their activities as I know I will never get this time back again. My daughter begins high school in the fall, and it feels like yesterday I coached her first volleyball team in fourth grade. At least it was a sport I knew as I also attempted to coach my son's first soccer team when he was five (I could really only do that when he was that young just to get him on the field as I never actually played the sport myself). It's hard to believe he's now going on 12. The years sped by between homework, being a chauffeur to and from practices, and being their cheerleader at weeknight games and weekend tournaments. This will be the first spring since I can remember that we won't have any activities or sports to chase to in our evenings and weekends so I plan to treasure each meaningful moment we're creating. My intention is to be fully present with my kids, my clients and those I connect with in a way that my balanced energy puts others at ease and provides a sense of calm for them too.
While reflection may be difficult while we're still in the heart of this novel experience with no real end in sight, we may start to notice as the seasons shift how we lived our lives before the Coronavirus crisis, and how we want life to be different going forward. We can have our own personal great realization of what we are grateful for right now that we want to hold onto, as we emerge from this time to live even more in alignment with what we care about.
What does balance mean for you right now? How do you experience it in your day-to-day?
Originally posted on LinkedIn.