In David Whyte’s “The Three Marriages,” he proposes that we change every day and to really have “life balance”, we must focus on three important relationships at the time when each needs our focus. He said a lasting, steady balance in life is nothing more than an illusion. He supports and I agree that, at different times, in your projects, different areas take priority and require your complete attention. Similarly, Whyte’s book proposes that, in life, different demands on you force you to consider a focus on one of three important relationships at a time. For example, his three marriages are: to someone/family that you love, to your career, and to yourself. The most important of those marriages is the one with yourself since he proposes that if you don’t have that working optimally, the others will soon suffer. Even though “life balance” might be an illusion or marketing concept, I thought about what my life would look like if I planned it as a project and here’s a tool to help you think deeply about your own life project:
Initiating and Planning:
- Develop a mission statement for your life: mine right now is “to have a meaningful life by being a role model to my children, a most trusted partner to my husband, a consistent, reliable source of support to all who know me, and a source of knowledge and wisdom for my profession. To always delight and enable the success, passions, and dreams of others. To detail my thoughts and experiences to help others. To be present, enjoying the moment and being conscious of my impact on others and this world at all times.”
- Use mind-mapping exercises of where you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, & retirement; visualize yourself in the future being as happy and productive as you can possibly be and map out what that looks like.
- Gap analysis : how do you get there from here? Define objectives under each period. Use visualization techniques to imagine your life in balance.
- How will you know you have arrived at your objectives: happy productive grown children, successful business that supports a desired quality of life, house paid off, what are those objectives?
- Put the objectives defined in step 1c and 1d on a calendar and start to map out the timing of achieving your goals.
- Consider risks to getting to these end goals:; life insurance, savings, need for a career change, or do you need more training or other knowledge?
- Physical health is a requirement for any focus so plan for that in your schedule: workouts, walks, yoga, dancing, whatever makes you happy — part of your marriage to self.
- Automate bill payingand stick to a budget so that you aren't affected by stress when it's time to pay the bills and you have your savings for retirement or investment when you get to that point.
- Make sure you schedule a workable amount of social activities, down time, spiritual activities, vacations as these are all part of the equation to keep you on your mission so schedule and plan for those as priorities.
- Make sure that you are able to recognize setbacks and when you suffer setbacks, make a plan for how to correct and get back on plan.
- Problem Solving and Decision Making are part of project management and part of your everyday life skills, so recognize your process for these and accept and appreciate processes that work.
- Stop and reflect at certain defined intervals to make sure your plans still apply. Maybe they change due to major life changes or a decision to make a career change. Be prepared to change daily and adjust your plan as these changes become apparent to you.
- Make sure your passions, competencies, and objectives all still line up and you are making forward progress.
- Make sure you are always learning. You can continue to build in that self-marriage by engaging in ongoing education, reflecting on your work/family life/scheduling to make sure you are improving how you relate to these important people in your life. You can excel at this phase of your life project by reading and discussing trends, techniques and others’ experiences.
- When you wrap this project up, what do you want others to say about you? When your life is done, how do you think your kids will remember your life? How would your spouse reflect on your life experience from their perspective; friends and your community?
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