Posted on Apr 1st, 2006

I have a friend named Sarah who is absolutely amazing. She works full-time, has three children, volunteers for an agency that assists seniors, is a competitive runner, and insists upon a neat, well-kept home.

I don’t get to see her much, of course.

The past few times we visited, she spoke about trying to find “balance” in her life. She decided to be vigilant about leaving work on time so she can spend more time with her children. And she began getting up a half hour earlier so she can get the house in order to her satisfaction before leaving for work. She is grateful for her volunteer time and her running time, because they provide meaningful outlets for her energy and creativity.

But peace continued to elude her until just last week.

She had a bit of a breakdown. A project went haywire just before the deadline, and it was the night of her daughter’s first dance recital. She made it to the second half of the recital, but unfortunately missed her daughter’s performance. Frazzled and upset, she began to weep, so she slipped out of the audience and into the lobby, where her cell phone rang. It was the agency she volunteered for. She had forgotten that she promised to be a greeter at the agency’s open house that night.

When she fell into bed that night, she remembered that she hadn’t gone for a run in three days.

The next morning, she picked up the phone and called a life coach she knew of. Actually, she had been on this life coach’s mailing list for the past several months, and sometimes even found time to read the messages.

During the first session, the life coach worked with Sarah to help her determine her values and their priority. Sarah was frustrated because everything continued to emerge as the highest priority, which she knew was illogical. But she couldn’t be persuaded to rank anything in her life higher than anything else.

Sarah explained to the coach that what she sought was balance. She wanted to keep everything in her life, and she wanted the coach to help her fit it all in more easily.

Then the coach provided her with a startling analogy, and this is the whole point of this article:

Suppose you have to carry a 100 pound bucket of water up a hill. You carry it in your left hand, and to offset the load, your body naturally veers way over to the right. Why? Your body needs balance to carry that bucket up the hill.

Let’s say you’re given an additional 100 pound bucket of water. Now you have a bucket of water for each arm. You’re balanced, right? Now go up that hill!

Can you carry 200 pounds of water up that hill? Some of you can, but most of you can’t. I don’t think I could! And even if you could, how far up the hill could you go? How high of a hill could you climb? And how long would you want to continue?

What Sarah was seeking was a way to distribute the load evenly. What she didn’t want to face was that the load was too heavy. No matter how evenly distributed it could be, it would still be too much.

During her second coaching session, she admitted that her children were her top priority. She always knew they were, but didn’t want to state it because she felt it would mean having to give up other things that were important to her. It was also important to her that her children see that she had a life outside the home. She felt that one of the best things she could do for her children was to role model this for them.

Her next priority was her job. She loved her work and hoped to move up the ladder in her career.

Running came third, and her volunteer work came next, and then having a tidy house came in last. That’s not to say it wasn’t important to her, but when forced to rank her priorities, she admitted it was at the bottom of her “top” list.

She resigned from her volunteer commitment, decided to run three days a week instead of five, and hired a cleaning person to come to the house once a week.

This was all just last week. This week, she’s talking about lowering her standards of tidiness around the house, just a little bit.

We’ll see . . .

Holly Zenith is a professional woman by day and a netpreneur by night. Her mission is to help women move forward in their lives and make their dreams come true. Please visit her at http://hollyzenith.com/sq.html

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