Instead of work-life balance starts to think about cycles of life.
Massive emphasis is being placed on work-life balance and its importance of it. For me, this is why I am a big fan of periodisation both in business and life. This is why I am a strong believer in life cycles.
It can be very difficult when you don’t have balance in your life. It’s important to understand that there is not a one-time fix for this because with life there are always cycles. For example, for me, my cycle has been: student, intern, junior coach, husband, senior coach, father, business founder, and father of two. Each cycle has had different challenges, and of course, different experiences.
What can we do when the stress and anxiety are too much? We can break the cycles down into 5 steps to help.
1. Stop and review
How often have you been in a situation and you think “How did I get into this?” When we feel (mental, emotional and physical) that the stress is overcoming us, we need to stop, take a clear break, and change the environment. Create the space to ask yourself the following questions:
What is causing my stress and anxiety?
How is this stress affecting my life, health, and personal and professional relationships?
What am I currently focussing on? Is this focus too narrow or too wide?
The first step can be the hardest, as people are after your attention all the time. Just look at it from the point of you as a business dad, you have clients, new clients, children, wife/husband or partner, family, friends, and you!
A prime example for me is when I was interviewing business dads. It took me 6 months to complete 50 interviews. But these interviews allowed space and time for the interviewees to think about their challenges, frustrations and fears.
We require a shift from the norm, back to something that is what we want. Covid has made this happen, but as a business dad, I am thinking about how can I now create the life I want, which is not selfish.
2. Develop your self-awareness skills
A book that I love to recommend is The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. The book is all about creating that awareness to move beyond yourself.
Once you have completed step 1, the next part is about becoming aware of those emotions, thoughts and physical feelings. Awareness of your emotional state is essential in order to determine the changes you want to make in your work and in your life.
A rational understanding of the decisions and priorities driving your life is important but equally important is emotional reflexivity — that is, the capacity to recognize how a situation is making you feel. Awareness of your emotional state is essential in order to determine the changes you want to make in your work and in your life.
3. Recovery and rethink
Developing and increasing your awareness allows you to have a better understanding of the cognitive process that is driving the current situation. And now is the time to be able to recover and rethink. It’s ok to work hard, it’s a requirement for success as a business dad. We have to be willing to put the time into work and our children if we want success. But have you ever stopped to think:
What am I willing to sacrifice, and for how long?
Which pillar in my life has been getting the most attention and effort?
Does that pillar need my attention?
What problems do I see arising from this sacrifice?
The amazing thing is that from these questions we can make real-time changes that will have an effect. Remember that idea of small steps forward – momentum creates motivation and motivation creates momentum. If you want to find more out about how to create energy as a business dad, read here.
4. Be agile and flexible
Now that you might be thinking about priorities, it’s time to be agile and flexible in moving forward. Covid has offered us the opportunity to do this, let’s take full advantage of hybrid and remote working. Life cycles allow us to be more flexible and adaptable than that work-life balance
5. Start to adjust
To complete the cycle, we need to take action and adjust to the situation. High levels of stress are not necessarily that bad. Chronic stress or stress upon stress can cause big issues. A massive part of this process is to talk about it, and explain to people why and how you are going to make these adjustments.
The best leaders are the ones that have open communication. Communicating about setting boundaries around not working in the evening or weekends, creating time in your week to exercise or talking about load management.
We all require coaching, we all require support. Making that adjustment to thinking that you are on your own is a big step forward.
Summary – Work-life Vs Life Cycle
What does a cycle do?
It goes around and around and around. Life is one big cycle. Therefore, this 5 step process is a continuous process of reviewing, improving and, most importantly, enjoying the process. We need to shift away from this idea of work-life balance to life cycles.
This is a big area that is worked on in The Ambitious Dad Pathway, where we look at your pillar of life and how work-life balance is a myth.
Remember to stop, become aware, rethink, change and adjust.
Progress over perfection