We find ourselves feeling constantly driven in an expanding cycle of demand between education, community, family, relationship and career.
That is generally before you add parenting to the equations! No wonder we feel fragmented!
Many high achievers find themselves inadvertently stuck in the squeeze between career, relationship and family that means although we value all these parts of our life, we simply can only do so much and the challenge makes us compromise in one or more area. Sometimes we hear the voice inside our head saying there has to be a better way! Life must be more than day –to-day survival on the treadmill.
Nevertheless we are driven to succeed, our career demands high performance, people skills, accuracy, time miracles and efficiency beyond that of the super charged supersonic robots we can become when stressed!
Expectations of excellence, family commitments and social responsibilities can drive us in never ending spirals of achievement expectation.
While our bosses want results, our children want more of us and our partners want us back.
Often both organisations and family relationships have paid the price of burn out.
Companies who previously ignored the need to balance life outside of work now accept the fact that staff morale, productivity, engagement and efficiency suffer when people become “output machines.”
For some career driven parent’s home relationships and children crumble under the strain when professional demands overshadow the everyday business of family life.
We must remember that in terms of future wealth, in terms of investment, quality time with children can be the simplest most effective way to invest in the social capital and future dynamic success of any nation.
This is evidenced by the World Health Organisation’s predictions that by 2020 depression will be the highest cause of death globally second to heart disease.
Sometimes we do pay a high professional and personal price for success and when that happens the social cost can stretch over multiple generations.
If we do not put sustainable and self-protective measures into place we find ourselves on a wave of success that is achievable but not sustainable. Like a helium balloon that rises strongly and swiftly but pops at the peak of its glory many of us are at risk of simply running out of puff or crumpling under work and family pressure.
I have met parents who have booked children into childcare even before their birth because they wanted to return to work within a matter of weeks after the birth of a child.
These are the type of unreasonable decisions or activities being implemented in our homes to maintain high level careers or exceptionally high standards of living.
I have met children whose parents work for long hours up to 14 hours a day and whose children are already in bed when they return home from work.
I am not saying this is common nor am I saying that childcare is a negative influence. I’m just saying that many families find themselves stuck unable to be all they set out to be.
It may not happen frequently to the same degree mentioned above but like a shadow that creeps into the night, we find ourselves trapped in the dark, by what was previously evident but not seen.
Some high achievers sacrifice too much of family for work, compromise work for family or if they do manage both well they risk their own health or worse the emotional security of their children.
Business leaders now tell us that coping in key areas, self-awareness and self-leadership are the keys to being effective. Their answer becomes self-care but in reality solutions need to go even beyond that!
We realise our limits which makes us seek innovative approaches and what I suggest is “Whole of life care” rather than self-care because self is by its solitary nature limiting unless of course you are genetically connected to a super hero.
What I suggest to skyrocket change is a stress audit.
In all the work I do, I encourage participants to check in with their true values.
This means they can acknowledge and take action on what is important to them and then we trim off everything that no longer serves us and when we prune down our obligations and responsibilities.
We create new choices, we delete limiting beliefs and magically we gain perspective that unlocks new energy that means we create new dynamics.
This makes us become more acutely aware of how we respond in each day.
We must decide what we want and be able to act on that to find solutions. I help families clarify their Direction, Intention and Purpose – called DIP the opposite of which is FIP and many working parents have that – its Frustration, Inadequacy and Pressure.
When we look at our coping resources and responses, we can review the strategies we use because ultimately if we continue on the same path we will get the same result.
The secret key is to increase and protect everything that brings us joy and satisfaction while also accommodating the necessary, the boring and the mundane.
When we fine tune what matters most we can organise systems, find the natural preferences in ourselves and others and commit in the most suitable way to avoid overburden.
When we define and understand critical areas of stress, we can decide what we can change, what needs our urgent and critical attention.
When we can put our energy into what makes the most difference and if we do that then we will feel better. Save time get things done.
If we can also let go and accept the lesser important areas that cause stress the things that just “irk” us but are not urgent nor important we will be much happier and that contentment will follow us from work to home and vice versa.
Just as there are budgets for every area of work we need a ceiling above, which staff expectations do not rise. People are not an infinite resource. No one should be asked to give more than a reasonable and fair contribution and no one should be expected to sacrifice their family for their work role.
Instead of compromising on relationships, family partnerships become secret weapons of change because if you can get the support and co-operation of all family members that is when you can develop systems, routines and rituals that make life easier.
And even very young children can get involved, in fact, children thrive on organised daily living so long as it all remains positive - it will remain healthy.
When chaos and sacrifice are replaced with order and harmony, you must become less stressed you will be happier more productive.
At work, it is not to say we are too fragile to be stretched, but we do need support while being under the pump and the same secrets to success apply at home to avoid burnout.
Many of us sort great careers for different reasons. Some want significance. Some want adventure or variety and others want to be connected with influence but many want security, financial ability to create a lifestyle because they want to live their dream and let’s not forget for many of us that means our intention to build a better life for the family!
If you find you are not getting that it may be time to do some things differently.
Rosie Bell Founder of “Parent Mindworks” Program has more than 30 years experience working with and serving families from the heart. Her work has included working for Western Australian Government providing intensive support to children and families who want to overcome problems and barriers to be the best parents they can be.