Work-Life Balance: Finding Inner Peace Despite External Turmoil

Last Thursday, at the Women in Consulting (WIC) meeting at Michael’s at Shoreline, I had the pleasure of listening to speaker Simma Lieberman discuss work-life balance for consultants. Given all that’s happening in my life, this was a timely topic indeed — one that I was looking forward to with great anticipation. I was not disappointed.

Simma (www.simmalieberman.com) shared many pearls of wisdom that evening. One that really struck a chord was the idea that real balance comes from achieving an inner peace regardless of what’s going on in your life.

Sure, I’d heard it before — but you can never hear it enough. It’s true. It’s not easy (for most of us anyway). It takes a conscious effort. And it starts with paying attention to the negative tapes that are part of our everyday dialogue; that are our automatic response to life experiences — especially stressful ones.

This appeals to me because, for the most part, I can’t control what happens around me. And if what’s happening around me is seriously stressing me out, I’d sure love to be able to control or influence something. And my response is the only thing I can control. Doing so may even influence all the “stuff” happening around me. BUT…how do I control those pesky thoughts? The same way I learned to walk — one step at a time.

Taking It One Step at a Time

The thoughts that follow didn’t come from Simma in this exact form. Some she specifically said. Some I’m inferring. And some have come from other readings. But, they’re all first steps that we can take towards inner peace.

  • Be aware of your thoughts and stop negative statements in their tracks.
  • Rephrase your response (even if it’s just an internal conversation); come up with an alternative possibility or explanation or statement.
  • Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness.

Understanding the Power of Gratitude

I’m a big believer that our thoughts can help manifest our realities; it’s been shown in medicine a lot of times. Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness is a good example of that. I was thinking about it a lot over the past couple of days and then in my inbox today appears an email about a new book, Learning to Dance in the Rain: The Power of Gratitude by Mac Anderson and BJ Gallagher. You can preview the book at http://www.simpletruths.com/flash_files/ibDITR/ibDITR.html if interested. (NOTE: I’m in no way related to this book, nor do I benefit from the sale of it.)

Here are a couple of key things from the book and a short video about a companion poem, “Weather Report” by BJ Gallagher (http://www.danceintherainmovie.com/) that underscore the concept of changing your thought patterns:

  • “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain!” Vivian Green
  • “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

Some would say that it’s pretty stormy for many consultants right now. Waiting for it to pass isn’t going to make it better. As Gallagher writes, “we all face adversity in our life. It’s not the adversity, but how we react to it that will determine the joy and happiness in our lives.” According to the recent WIC Compensation Survey, many consultants are adopting this positive mindset, such as “I decided to opt out of the recession. My attitude has kept my business growing and moving forward.”

For those of us who are fortunate to be busy with work while trying to juggle parenthood, aging parents, family health issues, and/or other daily life experiences, we face another set of challenges. I fall into that group. And I choose to be thankful.

When I’m working until midnight for weeks on end, instead of bemoaning my fate, I’m thankful that I have work.

When I have a day where I’m constantly moving between consultant and mom with barely a moment to rest, I’m thankful and honored to have such a beautiful, special daughter who loves me unconditionally and keeps me in the moment at least some of the time.

And when I’m faced with the challenges of running a consulting business that require me to wear multiple hats and sometimes deal with stressful situations, I’m grateful for WIC and all the support, insights, and friendships it offers. It would be impossible to maintain the success that I’m experiencing — not to mention my sanity — without this wonderful organization.

avery@aveconsulting.com' About Avery Horzewski

Principal of AVE Consulting, Avery is a marketing and customer communications consultant, and serves on WIC's board of directors as president. As a consultant, she works with companies of all sizes to develop compelling, persuasive, and effective customer-centric marketing and communication strategies that encompass everything from websites to social media to print collateral. Avery assumed the role of WIC president in January 2010, after overseeing the organization’s marketing, PR, social media, and website initiatives for three years.

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