By Raymond F. Angelini, Ph.D.
Most of us struggle to find ways to live authentic and balanced lives in this crazy, fast–paced world. Poet E.E. Cummings once said, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight; and never stop fighting!” The key question is not whether to fight the battle, but how to fight the battle. We all are faced with the many conflicting demands of family and career and struggle to find the right balance. However, achieving and maintaining that balance is often quite challenging given the ever-increasing demands of our daily lives.
What we really need to do is determine what really matters in our life. In my experience, it is not the career accomplishments that matter most, but the quality of our relationships with those we love. It is very easy to take our intimate relationships for granted, and as we get caught up in our busy lives, it is usually those closest to us who pay the biggest price. When work responsibilities become too demanding, it is common for us to take the path of least resistance and make excuses to those we love in the hope that they will understand. They usually do, for a while, but when this becomes the rule rather than the exception, trouble is likely to follow.
If we choose to make our relationships our highest priority, it will have to involve making different choices when it comes to our careers. It might mean saying no to working overtime, or it might mean passing up a promotion in order to avoid relocating the family. When we do this we usually realize that the rewards outweigh the sacrifices. Our careers are certainly important, but the satisfaction we derive from them is not likely to satisfy us in the same way as our connection with our loved ones.
Relationships help us to feel whole. They produce the context that helps us heal and be authentic. Most importantly, relationships teach us how to love both ourselves, and others. When relationships are at their best, they help us overcome our fears, see the truth about ourselves and others and provide the safe container necessary for us to grow and evolve as people. We all long for this, and having high-quality relationships is the best way I know to achieve this goal.
High-quality relationships don’t just happen. Like anything worthwhile in life, they require both attention and intention. Intention is our conscious, deliberate and sustained focus on something that eventually brings about a desired result. Intention involves our thoughts and feelings; attention involves our time and effort. Someone once said, “Intention + Attention = Miracles.” High quality relationships are truly miraculous, but they require our active involvement in order to be developed and maintained.
Of course, many choose to make their career a priority. This too is a valid choice, but as with any other choice it has consequences. I strongly recommend you make this choice with as much awareness as possible. As I have said before, I believe it is far wiser to have your career support your lifestyle rather than have your lifestyle support your career. In the end, it comes down to a matter of priorities. Each of us has to make our own choices as to what and who is most important to us.
I believe that success involves having our investment of time and energy congruent with our values. When it does not, unhappiness and frustration will follow. So, reconsider your priorities now and determine for yourself what success really means to you. Once you are clear on this, then live out your values each day, and watch what happens.n
Dr. Raymond Angelini of New Horizons Coaching has been in private practice as a clinical psychologist and business & personal coach for over 15 years specializing in helping people have more fulfilling careers and relationships. For more information visit www.newhorizonscoaching.com or email him at email@example.com.