Michelle Stewart faces an endless list of responsibilities that could gobble up every minute of her day. Stewart and her husband, John, own a 15,000-acre corn, wheat and soybean operation near Sheridan, Ill.; manage 80 employees and run a manure-spreading business, all while parenting three young daughters.
Achieving work-life balance isn’t easy, and some tensions will remain.
“You need to take time for yourself and explain to your kids why you need to do it,” she advises. “Don’t make yourself feel guilty. Just like farming, there are seasons to play and seasons to work.”
Admitting your life won’t have a perfect balance of farm, family and other responsibilities is the first step to defining the right mix for you, says Laura Cornille-Cannady, a farm business consultant who specializes in human resources.
“It’s your definition of success that counts,” Cornille-Cannady explains. “True balance would require perfection, and that alone blows the notion out of the water that you can achieve balance.”
The definition of the elements of success—happiness, achievement, significance and legacy—is always changing and very personal, she says. Life can feel out of balance when one area is empty, but instead of feeling unsuccessful, impose limits on expectations and understand you can’t fill every role all the time.
11 Steps to a More Satisfying Life
When working toward a happy medium between your personal life and your career, start with a simple principle. “Balance in life is not about equal time,” says Laura Cornille-Cannady, a farm business consultant. Instead, it’s about using available time to meet goals, wants and needs. Here are a few tips on how to achieve satisfaction:
1. Set appropriate expectations at home, at work and in the community.
2. Spend 10% of your time creating and monitoring your life plan.
3. Be present in all that you do. Multitasking is not being present.
4. Measure accomplishment by results rather than by hours worked.
5. Create space just for you, either in a physical location or in your head.
6. Define your limits for yourself and then share them with others.
7. Get an ally such as a coach or a friend who will hold you accountable.
8. Plan and implement a non-hurried morning routine.
9. Identify times that are limited to family or friends and make dates.
10. Simplify workplace and home processes.
11. Prioritize caring about others rather than taking care of others.
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