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The myth of work-life balance

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Who among us isn’t hunting for work-life balance? That elusive state we’ve been taught is the key to happiness and that will allow us to have it all. Most veterinary teams are working longer hours and trying to squeeze both work and life into their already overpacked days. We’re taught to focus harder and harder on work in order to succeed, when the real key is to do less.

In order to break free from this cycle of frustration, I developed a life-assessment tool that immediately gives you data to understand what exactly you should be saying “no” to, and what deserves more of your day. This tool, the Mastery Circle, is a simple exercise that results in immediate growth and focus. Once completed, you’ll have hard data to help you improve how you apply your personal and professional efforts every day.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated, take some time to do the exercise. Here is how to craft and evaluate your own personal Mastery Circle.

1. Pick your top five priorities

Make a list of your top five life priorities. Start by picking one top priority for your health, one for your wealth, and one for yourself., such as a family priority or a hobby. Once you have those three, imagine that someone you love could see the list. What would they say to your three items? What would they add? Imagining what a loved one thinks you are most devoted to and focused on can help you fill out your remaining two items or narrow down your list if you can’t seem to cut down to only five items. Be sure these priorities truly reflect your personal standard. For example, your personal health goal could be as small as taking a weekly walk with your dog or as big as completing a marathon. Be true to yourself, and dial into what makes you happy and sparks excitement.  

2. Place your priorities in a circle and score them

On a piece of paper or cardstock, draw a circle and write your priorities evenly spaced along the inside rim. Then score each item from a scale of -3 to +3 according to the amount of time, energy, and effort you are currently giving to each priority. -3 represents your most undernourished goal, which gets little to no time or energy in your day, while +3 is taking too much energy and is your main daily focus. Place all of your negative numbers inside the circle, with -3 being the farthest inside. Place all positive numbers outside of the circle, with +3 being farthest outside. We are striving to reach a balanced level of 0 or +1 representing a goal that is in balance, and these numbers would be right on the rim of the circle. Be sure that you score your priorities honestly, think about how much you are really doing to achieve your goals. Then connect the scores with a line, which will create a diagram of your efforts, showing which of your priorities are out of sync with the balanced circle.

3. Assess whether your current efforts align with your priorities

Take some time to step back and assess the scores you’ve given to your priorities. Do the scores align with your goals? Are you seeing that one goal is at +3, while everything else is in the negative? Which priorities are being overserved and which are undernourished? Awareness is key to change. The raw data will present a stark picture of where your life is. This explains what is going on in your life and gives you a blueprint for how to change.

Ultimately, the Mastery Circle exists to give professionals the permission to be well-rounded human beings. In the hectic life of a veterinary professional, many people are losing themselves to a singular professional goal. Your life does not revolve around one priority, and when you can rebalance your efforts you can see that all your activities support the others. When you take the time to balance out your life’s priorities, it has a multiplier effort on all the others. Nourishing your health and your personal life opens you up to achieving more at work. You’ll be more productive, joyful, relaxed, and able to see creative solutions when you take time to take care of every important aspect of your life.

Want to learn more about how to achieve balanced mastery and how to put yourself back into the equation of your day? Bring your Mastery Circle list with you to the 2020 Connexity virtual conference, where I’ll be leading a session that thoroughly explains how to create the list, then we’ll drill into it. We’ll also discuss how to implement focus in your daily routine and how high achievers can sustain their accomplishments while remaining balanced human beings.

Learn more about the Connexity 2020 virtual conference.

About the author

Rick Griggs, creator of the Rolestorming creativity tool, has degrees in psychology, business, and French. His 10-month Life Mastery Academy helps leaders and innovators jumpstart their humanity with leadership skills, business reading, and life balance. Griggs held management positions at National Semiconductor and Intel before founding Griggs Achievement Training & Retreats. Rick is the author of the life poem “Samsara” and his Mastery Circle of life priorities includes piano, French, bicycling, books, and koi ponds. He is the author of several books, including Triumph in Teams, and is leading the Balanced Mastery: Is Your Achievement Obsessed, Possessed, or Blessed? session at the 2020 Connexity conference.

 Photo credit: © Rick Griggs