Last week, I went to a seminar for women in business, and suprisingly a great deal of time was spent talking about happiness and fulfillment. Various lecturers emphasized the need for balance in life and the importance of being self aware. Among the best recommendations I heard was the need for a periodic internal audit. To find joy in our work, most of us need to believe it is meaningful and that we are connecting with others. To feel engaged and energized, we have to get both emotional and intellectual stimulation. If we are missing these things at work, we need to come up with new strategies to obtain these key elements in order to truly succeed.
This all seems so simple, but when my clients are encountering multiple challenges at once it is hard for them to focus and find clarity. When people are hit with a mid-life or existential crisis, they may need help figuring out the path they should take to get to a better place. Increasingly, people are relying on life or career coaches to help them identify the problem areas in life and find a happier path. These professionals actually graph out areas of life that a person may want or need to address in order to get to a happier point in their lives. I finally saw one of these pie charts the other day and laughed at its simplicity– not that addressing these areas is easy at all, just that it is strange to see life broken out into about 8 basic categories that can define our entire existence. Here is a sample list:
7. community service
8. personal development
After an individual has ranked the list in terms of what is most important to him/her, the goal is to delve into a deep analysis to see what is working or not in each category. While I don’t think we all need help performing this, I do believe it is a worth while exercise for everyone to do on a periodic basis, just to make sure we are not neglecting any major categories, and so we can develop plans for improvement as needed before some catastrophic event occurs that sends us into crisis-management mode.
Looking at these major areas of life that we all have to balance, one thing definitely became crystal clear– it will never all be 100% right. It is a huge juggling act, and Christine Brown-Quinn (author of Step Aside Super Woman…) is right that the sooner women can learn to let go of the Super Woman image, the more realistic their chances of finding true happiness. Life does not have to be perfect– it will never be perfect– it just has to be good enough.