We’re pulled in so many different directions—work, family, church, and so much more. How in the world can we find balance?
“How can I have a more balanced life?” This is perhaps the most common question I hear from professional, Christian women. Hidden behind the idea of “balance,” what they’re usually really looking for is a to-do list. They want me to explain the secret to getting more done, in less time, without as much stress.
My answer usually shocks them. I always tell them that they need to focus less on the things (or people) they need to take care of, and more on themselves.
Why? Because balance starts with you. If you want to have more balance in your life, you need to know yourself well, manage your commitments, and steward the gifts God has given you.
This is a case where knowledge is power. You cannot expect to make good decisions about your time, talents, and resources unless you know who you are, what you’re good at, and what motivates you to be your best.
During several different stages in my career, I’ve made it a point to critically assess my personal and professional strengths, weaknesses, and goals. I’ve done so using resources like the Myers-Briggs personality assessments and Gallup’s StrengthsFinder program. Through these assessments, I’ve learned more about who I really am. I’ve realized that I thrive best in situations that call for practical, process-based problem-solving; that I’m a natural relationship-builder; and that I value open communication and challenging, collaborative environments. I’ve also identified workplace essentials—values that are critical to me in the workplace, such as respect for my faith and my family focus. Understanding myself better in these ways helps me to be more effective with my time and energy because I can distinguish between opportunities that will give me life and ones that will drain me. It helps me know when to say yes and when to say no.
We all talk about wanting “balance,” but balance isn’t a static thing that you achieve or don’t achieve; it’s really a series of decisions that you must make in any given day about how to allocate your limited resources. For some, each of those decisions will be fraught with doubt, stress, and even guilt. But if you know yourself well, you’ll begin to make better, more confident decisions about when, how, and where to spend your time and energy.
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Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.