Hurricane Irma Blows Work/Life Balance to Pieces
What a crazy couple of weeks this has been! In addition to the usual daily struggle of balancing work and home life, Hurricane Irma mandatory evacuation affected our family. Both my parents and in-laws, were in the path of the oncoming hurricane. We insisted they come to stay with us so they would be out of harms way. Therefore, for the past few weeks we have had four elderly parents, two 20-year-old adult “kids”, a teenager, three dogs, my husband and I living under one roof. Adding to the chaos, our parents were stressed out about their homes being destroyed, our kids thought it was a big adventure and, as the mother, I was exhausted trying to keep up with my normal work and home obligations. Just trying to get the house in order to give everyone a bed, making sure we had plenty of groceries and preparing meals that would feed nine people sufficiently, including dietary restrictions and preferences, was a challenge at best. It felt like I was constantly cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. On top of that, we are in the middle of a home improvement project. The crazy Katz’s, does this only happen to us I wondered? I am not complaining, we had it easy, comparatively speaking, with no minor damage to homes and all of our family are on their way back to Florida now.
It does not take a hurricane to throw life out of balance. Based upon my conversations with other businesswomen, it is not just me this happens to. My clients experience it also! Everyday life is full of unexpected obstacles and hurdles that women need to work around. Sick children or parents, home improvement projects, hiring new employees, the list is endless. The expectation we put on ourselves as we strive to have “work/life balance” is unrealistic. I believe work/life balance is a continuum that always needs rebalancing, sometimes on a daily basis. For example, during the past two weeks, I needed to focus a little more on my family, being home right after work, making sure everyone was fed (prior to our usual 9:30 pm) and safe. Assuaging fears of destroyed homes, finding distractions to keep thoughts in a happy place and offering a sympathetic ear when told the same story for the third time that day! Though I may feel stressed, thinking about the deadlines quickly approaching, clients that are needing to be rescheduled and projects that are sitting idle, I know that this chaos will soon be past and I can rebalance my life again to meet the priorities that are always there.
Clients often ask, “How do you stay so organized and focused when everything appears to be falling apart?” My strategy is that I have put together a system of using the S.M.A.R.T. technique for determining what my long and short-term goals are for work and personal life and setting priorities based upon my goals. Then, when I get back to trying to get my life back into balance, having these known goals enables me to set priorities about what I need to focus on first. This makes it easier for me to delegate to others and say no to the requests that are not in-line with my short and long-term goals. Sounds easy, right? Believe me, it is not! It takes patience and practice to be committed to focusing on your goals and not become distracted by competing needs. However, by adding this structure, I am able to accomplish my goals, which in turn, increase my everyday satisfaction and long-term happiness. I have also found that when my small business clients focus on their goals, and work to achieve them, they feel less stress, more in control, are happier and achieve success.
Research has proven that setting priorities and achieving goals leads to more life/work satisfaction as well. A survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Strayer University, interviewed over 2,000 Americans and found that 67% of the respondents associated success with “achieving personal goals”; and 60% said, “Loving what you do for a living.” Understanding what your professional and personal goals are, and putting steps into place to achieve them, can help you feel more satisfied and in balance as well!
(Source: Laura Katz, Area Director, UGA SBDC in Athens)