Updated: Aug 12, 2019
One of the attributes that allowed me to both maintain balance and invest in my girls was energy management. I was able to compartmentalize my mental and emotional energy between the three primary areas of my life - Individual, Family and Work.
I considered myself 100% committed to each discretely, or 3 × 100%. The time may have varied, but for each respective area I was fully engaged for that time. I speak in past tense because it was particularly important while my daughters were in the house. Now that they are adults, the dynamic is markedly different.
With that said, allow me to define each of the three. Individual is personal time. That includes my personal hobbies, time with friends and extended family as well as community service. In general, this aspect separates me from family, and allows me time on my own, by my standards, for myself and when desired by myself.
Next is work, and that is as it is for everyone. Time, energy and effort associated with my profession. This can include work trips, office hours and work/studies at home. This also pulls me away from my family.
Third is family, and this is specifically about my wife and daughters. I factored the two separately; time and energy for/with my wife and then, time/energy with my girls. I committed energy to focus on and satisfy my wife as a discrete responsibility. Then, I had to dedicate energy specifically for my daughters. This can get convoluted as there is “full family time,” as well as time with only the girls and thirdly time only with my wife. But I counted all of it under family.
With those definitions, I made sure whichever area I existed in I maximized my availability during that timeframe - mentally and physically. The key transition point is when I left one area (i.e. work), I did not allow "the drain" from work to bleed into my family time. On the contrary, I tapped into a completely different energy source (a new 100%) and invested myself in the time with my wife and/or daughters “refreshed, as if starting anew.”
I am not sure if this was a passed down trait (from my mom) or conditioned. But it is a characteristic I diligently worked to sustain. I gauged my energy level across all three aspects, assessed if I was duly invested in each and if my performance was up to par. But not based on a singular “100%” which could offer “an out” if I was delinquent in any given area, but independently measured by what I should be committing to each.
I had to ensure I was not compromising one area due to "over-investment" in another. I know some can argue "you cannot over-invest in your kids," but I am not sure about that. Just like one can over invest in work, I needed to contextually understand the amount of time with my girls (particularly if not enough, but in a broader sense as well). The reason is I also needed to consider time with my wife, at work, with my parents, friends, siblings, cousins and last, but not least, for me; all merited some of my time. Though “the rest” may be less at certain times, and lower priority than my daughters, I still had to balance them all. As most of us are "more than" any single title, we have to balance ourselves across all fronts, and not lose ourselves in the process by forgetting we need time to reflect, meditate and re-energize.
It is important to realize the demand on your time, energy and effort and factor yourself, your family and your job accordingly. But the art of compartmentalization can help you have the energy for each, mindful you must seek to achieve such balance as a goal.
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