Finding balance in your personal and family life can be an impossible task for many busy women. Identifying and utilizing your strengths to help prioritize and gain satisfaction from your activities will help achieve greater balance and lead to a much more satisfying and rewarding daily life.
Challenge: Lynn, a busy mother of four with a baby on the way, learned her husband was offered a transfer from their suburban Chicago home to the intriguing city of Paris. At the time, her father, with whom she was very close, was losing his second battle with cancer. Lynn’s plate was more than full — it was overflowing — and the prospect of moving was daunting. Her head was spinning with questions and concerns about the prospect of an international move. She was concerned about:
- Relocation issues (selling/finding a home, identifying new schools, new medical doctors in a foreign country, etc.)
- The distance apart and ongoing care for her father
- Finding a role for herself outside of a mother and caregiver
- Embracing the move and its experience
“The news of my husband’s transfer was exciting…but it was also very overwhelming,” Lynn revealed.
Analysis: How could Lynn maintain a “balanced” life as a mother of five young children, living as an expat thousands of miles away from any familiar faces and helping hands?
Lurking in the background to this opportunistic, but challenging, scenario was the fact that Lynn had a family history of depression. She, too, had periods in her life when despondency was an issue that she had to manage with professional assistance.
Six months after her family moved to France, she temporarily returned to the United States for the birth of her fifth child. She was also able to spend time with her father whose health was deteriorating rapidly.
A few months later Lynn faced her father’s death and her grief was tremendous. Nonetheless, Lynn barreled ahead, focusing her energies on the livelihood of her husband and five young children.
There was no time left for Lynn. One voice in her head kept telling her that she should delight in her expat experience and seize the exciting opportunities to meet new people and to experience Paris. The other voice kept telling her that she should give into the pure exhaustion and creeping depression.
Solution: Lynn kept thinking that there was something missing in her hectic life. She intensely wondered if she had a calling beyond her role as mother, wife and household manager. Was she silly for even contemplating such a notion? She was very busy at all times, but also restless. And, she was constantly fearful about slipping back into despondency.
“Am I crazy to think I could – or should – be doing more than what is already on my plate with such a busy household?” she wondered.
Lynn heard about the Strengths Profile survey and was very curious to see if her results would help solve the dilemma. She found that understanding her strengths in granular detail enabled her to think more clearly about what she did – and did not – enjoy doing. Somewhat surprisingly, but effortlessly, she could generate countless examples, in the form of stories , to articulate how she has historically used her strengths.
Lynn is a fact-junkie and has a strength in Detail. Well-informed and articulate, she loves to argue her point-of-view and explain her perspective through analogies and personal stories. She is very persuasive and loves to come up with ideas on how to do things to a higher standard (Pride). She can be challenged and come back even more convicted (Bounceback).
She wondered what to do with this deepened self-awareness, and she yearned for a consistent feeling of hope.
Result: Lynn found her Realised Strength of Incubator and her Unrealised Strengths of Centered and Mission the most helpful as she focused on these three Strengths to put her current life in perspective. And she drew the conclusion that continuous soul-searching was, in and of itself, an energizing activity that she truly enjoyed. In addition, proceeding cautiously and finding more ways to use her strengths in every day life made the most sense for her.
“My aim is simply to enjoy the journey of exploring. I am going to stay curious and see what I am attracted to. Right now, I don’t need to come to a big decision. I just need to recognize and build in some occasional activities that call upon my strengths and make me feel authentically strong. Giving myself permission to watch late night TV debates might be all that I need at times! This is the way that I will keep balanced.”
“I don’t need to find a formal job right now. I can use my strengths more purposefully in my every day routine — if I just reflect and plan my days a little bit better. I now know I can fill my bucket simply by shifting my focus to appreciating and using my strengths.”