The Conundrum: Balancing Family, Work, and Play Time


The Conundrum: Balancing Family, Work, and Play Time

January 16, 2019


Like many of us I have long puzzled over the conundrum: “Is it possible to find a comfortable balance between family, work and play time ?” 

At one point in my search, I concluded the answer was No! 

I did not think it was possible to find an easy answer – much less any answer – to this question.  

You know… there are just too many challenges:

  • Things, basic life circumstances like health and jobs, keep changing.
  • Surprises, and not always the good kind, keep popping up.
  • There is only so much time in a day, and my “To-Do List” never gets completed.

I don’t see these as excuses. I see these things as reality. 

There are only 168 hours in a week. There is no magic potion that can create time. There is no amount of money that will allow us to buy more time. For each of us, there are only 168 hours in a week. 

At one point several years ago I decided to pay attention to the maxim: “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.” Well, that is easier said than done. Right?  

When things really get crazy, what are the things you allow to slide to make room for what absolutely needs to get done? For me, it is the things I can directly control – which usually means I let doing things for myself slide first. It is so easy to slip into this downward spiral. 

It came to me early one morning that, perhaps, I was looking for work-life-play balance in the wrong place. Just like happiness is not “out there” – like I will be happy when I land that promotion or new job, or I buy that place on the lake, or I have a child, or I lose 10 pounds, or… or…or. Happiness is an inside job. It is always there, waiting to be discovered.    

Maybe the solution to the conundrum of achieving a comfortable balance between work, family and play time is to be found by going within and stepping outside of the boundaries of time. 

What if … we thought about time, and the limitations on our time, differently? 

What if we thought about time in a multi-dimensional framework? For simplicity and given my economics training, I often create graphs. What if we drew a graph with earth-time on the horizontal axis and spiritual-time on the vertical axis?  This is a concept I discuss in “Be Happy NOW!: Chapter 9, Look Within and Love Me” 

“I have lived most of my life in the horizontal dimension of time, the X axis, for the mathematicians out there. There are twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, and fifty-two weeks in a year. For my entire business career, I had thought there was never enough time to do everything on both my professional and my personal to-do lists.” 

Indeed, there are only 168 hours in a week. 

I went on to write about how the labyrinth is a good metaphor for the journey within: 

“As I enter the walking meditation of the labyrinth, I focus on one emotion at a time. When I start the path of the labyrinth and focus on fear, I reflect on each different type of fear. As I move on in my meditations, I work on forgiving one person at a time. 

In the vertical dimension of time, or the Y axis, I am entering the spiritual dimension, where body, space, and time do not exist. In the spiritual journey, time is infinite, boundless, and eternal. In the spiritual journey within, there are no limits. Anything is possible. 

The journey to my inner Self and to the center of the labyrinth is for me a profoundly spiritual experience.” 

So, the thought occurred to me recently: “What if… when I go within, and find my center, the conundrum of Balance disappears?” 

Ahh... the question changes: 

  • In the horizontal dimension of time, there are only 168 hours to allocate between the competing needs of family, work and play. If you take 7 hours of sleep as a non-negotiable for your health, then there are only 119 hours to allocate.

  • In the vertical dimension, time does not exist. Rather you are on a journey to your Center, to your inner Self, to your point of Knowing. 

When you are centered and grounded, you still face the same every-day, real-world choices. However, when you make the choices, you KNOW you are making the right decisions in the moment.  You are at peace. 

Or as J. R. R. Tolkien said, 

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

This is not New Age thinking. This is coaching from world class coaches. For example, one of the coaches I admire, Robin Sharma, says, “If you get you inner empire right (mind, physical life, emotional life, and spiritual life) you cannot help but lift everything you touch in your outer life.” This is a great insight from a world-class coach.  

What I know is from my personal experience. When I spent the time to go within, my whole world unfolded before me with new and amazing opportunities. “Be Happy NOW!” is my personal story of my journey of going within, learning to let go, releasing fear, forgiving others and myself, loving unconditionally and finding my purpose. It was on this transformational journey that I realized coaching was an essential part of me, who I am, and I became a Certified Stress Reduction Specialist as an Affiliate of From Stressed to Bestand a Certified High Performance Coach

One of the many reasons I love the High Performance Coaching Program is that we are working on the Inner Empire, with key habits such as Clarity, Necessity and Purpose. At the same time, we are working on the Outer Empire, with key habits such as Productivity and Influence. 

When we bring the knowing of our Inner Empire into alignment with high performance habits in our Outer Empire, the energy is enormous! 


Till next time, 


 May you be happy now and always, Alison



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