Saturday, December 20, 2014

Boundaries, not balance

I heard crisis management consultant Judy Smith, the inspiration for the character Olivia Pope on ABC's Scandal, speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women.

What I thought was going to be a presentation on the principles of crisis management, was in fact a series of object lessons on setting priorities in one's life.

Judy Smith, who like me is a graduate of both American University and Boston University, provocatively said, "I don't believe in 'work-life balance.' No one is balancing anything, its just one day at a time. I DO believe in boundaries. Because when one has clear boundaries, one can stay focused on what is important while keeping distractions out."

Interestingly, back in October, I read a Huffington Post article about Warren Buffet's rules for productivity that promoted a similar philosophy.

Both Smith and Buffet suggest that, in order to be balanced or productive, one needs to have a list of the top five priorities in one's life. Anything not on that list shouldn't get one's attention. Period.


I recently switched jobs, away from my career of choice, in order to have more balance. (I also left my job because my manager was cuckoo banana crackers, but that's another story for another time.)

But maybe part of my balance problem is that I have too many things I'm trying to do. I'm too unfocused in my effort to my the modern "superwoman."

Maybe what I need are boundaries, not balance.

So, here are my top five priorities, to keep my focused on living a happy, healthy, productive life.

Clownface's Top Five Priorities for Living a Fulfilled Life
  • Being the best sister, aunt, daughter I can be
  • Continuously trying to maximize my ability to give AND receive love from my husband
  • Creating, enjoying and sharing life's adventures
  • Understanding and removing obstacles for people - starting with myself - to realize their true potential 
  • Cultivating peace and beauty

I've done this exercise before, when I was exploring leaving my non-profit career in early 2013. The list has changed only slightly since then. And it remains philosophical enough that I can create fluid but firm boundaries. Or balance. Or whatever you want to call the pursuit of a fulfilling life.

I'll keep you posted on my success. Being balanced, maintaining boundaries, pursuing a fulfilling life, whatever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of a mini-coaching session I received from Jane M. back when we all worked together. I was trying to decided whether to leave a board I was then serving on, and she prompted me to consider what my primary value or life-goal was and whether serving on that board served it. I realized that it didn't, stepped off the board, and was very happy with the choice. --Spike