When people think about work-life balance, they often think about time.
But what about the ripple effect that happens when you're out of balance, such as your impatience with others?
I am not talking about everyday minor frustrations where you can still keep your cool (for the most part).
You will get annoyed, frustrated, and impatient at times – you are human, after all.
I am talking about the level at which you are annoyed or frustrated and how you react to it.
When I am more impatient with my husband and kids -- not being kind, losing my cool or yelling -- it's actually a cue for me that there is too much on my plate.
This is a rare occurrence now. But, a few years ago, it was an everyday thing.
>> If you want to make your own shift, sign up for my once-a-year workshop on how to focus your time and balance your life (without sacrificing performance) here.
This is the famous "duck blanket story" in our house.
If my son Carter winds up in therapy, this will come up (kidding). It is a story I am not proud of . . . but it does have a happy ending.
Back when Carter was four years old (he is 13 now), there was a period where bedtime was a fight every night with the kids.
One night, in particular, my husband was out of town, I was exhausted from the day, I still had a few hours to work that evening, and Carter would not stay in bed.
We went back and forth for hours, it felt like. I would tell him to stay in his room. He would keep coming out.
I desperately wanted Carter to get to bed so I could get to work. We were yelling at each other, and it turned into an angry battle of wills.
I threatened to lock the door and did (some parenting advice is to put a lock on the door, which seems crazy to me now). Carter threatened he would pee in his room . . . and he did.
And as a last-ditch attempt, I threatened to take away his most special item in the world – his yellow duck blanket – if he came out of his room again. And he still came out again.
So. It. Went. Away.
We were both crying and at our wit's end. I just needed Carter to go to bed, and he just needed caring and compassion . . . and his mom to not be so scary.
Eventually, he got to bed, I was too wiped to work, and it was a wake-up call. I was seriously out of balance, like a 20 out of 10.
While the embarrassing moment I shared in my last blog was the tipping point: enough is enough, fighting with my kids and husband was the real reason I needed to make a change.
My priorities were seriously out of whack, I was not living my value of family or showing kindness, and my family was getting the worst side of me.
Because I just didn't have anything left to give.
If this sounds familiar to you, or you have other moments of frustration and impatience, know this first and foremost: there is nothing wrong with you.
All the stress, frustration and overwhelm is just hiding your best.
And it's easy to feel stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed when you have too much on your plate, you are exhausted and you're pulled in too many directions.
That’s why impatience is often a sign when you are out of balance.
If this is you, I invite you to join my January workshop to discover how to focus your time and balance your life (without sacrificing performance). Click here.
Now, for the happy ending.
It's my biggest regret because it was a moment that was so out of alignment with the person I am. But it offered me a wonderful lesson too.
Within a short amount of time, I started to work less, honor my boundaries and fill my own cup. I was more patient with my husband and kids. I began to feel more like myself again.
Carter got his duck blanket back about a year later when a neighbor mentioned to me how she lets her teenagers have their stuffed animals because "who am I to take away someone's joy?" He was delighted and still has it today.
And I can say we have never had a moment like that again.
We also talked about forgiveness and learning from our mistakes, which I like to think is shaping him as he grows up.
So, whether you are at the point I was back then, or you just feel on edge with impatience, it's simply a cue for you to pay attention.
Instead of plowing through, you can slow down in the moment. Instead of losing your patience, you can take a deep breath or even walk away.
Instead of burning the candle at both ends, you can honor what you need to feel centered, and show up in a way that is the person you want to be.
Instead of being hard on yourself, you can let go of the guilt, be kind, and remember, the past is the past -- it's offering you your own lesson. Learn from it and move on.
All my best,
Sign up for the once-a-year virtual live workshop series to discover how to focus your time and balance your life (without sacrificing performance). Register here.
Stacey L. Olson is a Certified Positive Psychology Coach and has 15 years of corporate experience. She works with busy leaders and professionals who want to create more balance, stress less, and perform at a high level. Stacey is the founder of the 'The Balanced Leader' transformational membership (formerly Be At Your Best program) and offers executive and leadership coaching, workshops, and speaking.
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