Balancing Work, Life, and Family (Part 1)

(Part 2 of this series is here, and part 3 is here.)

I was once asked, “Grace, how do you define success?” My answer was simple: Success is not being able to tell the difference between work and play.

Balancing your life and figuring out what to prioritize is an ongoing journey, yet I believe it all begins with this question: What do you value the most? I sometimes like to visualize “jars” that represent the various areas of my life:  God/spiritual life, children, family, friends, work/career, finances, self-care, etc.

Thinking about my time and effort as things I can put in these jars helps me to be the best person I can be for my loved ones and the world.  In order to assess how I spend my time and resources, I evaluate two items at the end of the month: my calendar and my checkbook. They show me how much time I’m spending with my children and loved ones in contrast to how I’m spending my financial resources.

I try to live my life while keeping the end of that life in my mind. Of course, I don’t mean that in a morbid way, but in terms of thinking about the legacy I want to leave when I go. For instance, sometimes I imagine myself at my funeral. What would people say about me? Would they talk about what a great fundraiser I was, or about how I raised millions of dollars for charities? Or would they talk about my character?  

I want people to say that I was a kind and generous person. I would like my friends to say that I was a good friend, that I took time to make fun memories and walk in fellowship with them. I would like my children to say that I was a loving and attentive mother who took time to attend their baseball games and taught them values and morals. I hope my staff members at The Grace Group will say that I was a leader who led by example with integrity and excellence. I have made it my life’s goal to be worthy of these words when my time on earth comes to an end.

As time passes, I wonder: is it possible that women have been tricked to believe that we could “have it all” when we know, deep down, that this isn’t the goal we should have?  It’s challenging to be a top executive, an attentive wife, a good and loving mother, and a well-rounded person, since we all only have the same 24 hours in a day. What we need to do is to establish what we value most. Then, maybe instead of focusing on having it all, we can think more about being it all.  

For the past 15 years, at the beginning of the year, I have written a personal mission statement where I ask myself: Who do I want to BE in the world this year?  I use this as a road map for the year ahead. What kind of mother do I want to BE? What type of leader/ boss do I want to BE? What kind of friend do I want to BE?  These questions serve as my internal accountability system in determining what projects or opportunities I take on.

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash