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Having it all?

emotional wellbeing personal growth training Feb 07, 2022

A few months ago, I was doing a training and, as is often the case, I shared some details of my lifestyle: significant work travel, moving every six months for baseball, working on multiple business ventures, being a parent, etc. During a break, one of the participants approached me and said, "Trying to have it all, huh?" What struck me most about the question is that I could not tell if the person meant it in a positive or negative way. And, when I asked for clarification, I discovered this person didn't know whether it was positive or negative, either!

This is a powerful aspect of common culture. There is so much focus on "having it all", but do we even know if it's a good thing? Many people are so busy and so focused on achievement and success (usually defined financially), yet are not even sure they want what they are struggling to get. I meet so many people who are running, running, running (sometimes literally!) from before sun up until after sun down to get "it all" done, yet still feel dissatisfied.

Then I think about people who are active, busy, juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, yet seem content and happy. (I would like to think I belong in this category!) What is the difference between the two groups? I think it's because the latter group views "having it all" in a very specific way. When we are insightful enough to comprehend two concepts and then develop a lifestyle based on those, we feel satisfaction. These two concepts are, simply: 1) what are our natural gifts, skills, and talents and 2) what are our needs. When we acknowledge and celebrate our natural gifts, skill, and talents and use them to get what we need, the natural result is personal fulfillment and the feeling of "having it all."

To me, there is nothing like the feeling of being in front of a group of people and watching the light bulbs come on as I share my knowledge of what I believe to be true and what works. I have discovered that this is something that I am good at and that I need to do. And let me clarify... I do not need to be the center of attention or be on "on stage". My sense of value is increased when I help and give to others, and I have a positive impact on those around me. I am not unique in this. Most people need this. The problem is when our sense of value is in contrast with external messages.

It would make sense that when we have a conflict between internal and external messages of value, we would choose to listen to our internal messages. This problem is that external messages of value are much easier to quantify: job titles and academic achievement, salary, and possessions. It is much more difficult to measure our positive impact on others. "Warm fuzzies" have no numeric designations! Yet, they are the very things that make life worth living.

So my advice today: slow it down and simplify your life. What do you do well and what do you need? Let that be your focus.

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