Work/Life Imbalance, Part II

Step 2. Assess the Situation

In two previous posts (here and here), I laid out the basic theory of the Art of Balance system. But theory is of no use without practice. This is the second of a series of posts that steps through the six stages of recovering and maintaining balance through the example of a common UnBalancer: Work/Life Imbalance

Balancer takes a time out.

To minimize further damage, Balancer stops what we’re doing and calls on ReBalancer to assess the situation.

ReBalancer rolls up its sleeves and gets to work figuring out how you got into this state and what you can take away, modify, or add back into your life to help restore balance.

If you’ve been tracking your balance with the Personal Craziness Index (PCI), you can see that your score has been slipping for a while, and you notice that the slippage coincided with the longer work hours. (You can learn more about the PCI here and here.)

This re-assessment is similar to what the British airforce did during WWII. When planes returned from missions riddled with bullet holes, they looked not only at the damaged parts of each aircraft, but also at the undamaged areas. Those undamaged areas, they reasoned, were the ones that really needed reinforcement because the planes that got hit there didn’t make it back.We’re the same way. UnBalancer is sneaky. While we’re paying attention to some areas of our lives, it organizes its attack on the others.

One tool I find especially helpful in the Assess stage is the Circles of Problems and Resources (CPR). It’s a simple, one-page tool that allows you to identify your problem or problems, identify internal and external resources that can help you with those problems, and then map the problems to the resources, creating a simple map back to balance.

Here’s how to create your own CPR

Start by drawing a doughnut shape that fills most of the middle of a single sheet of paper. Inside the innermost circle, list the problems you’re experiencing. In the outer circle, write the internal resources that might help with these problems. Then, in the area outside the doughnut, list the external resources that also could be helpful.

Resources are internal if you can do them without having to engage the external world. Resources are external if doing them requires interacting directly with the outside world. For instance, in the example below, exercise at home would be an internal resource, but exercising at the gym requires an external resource.

Here’s a blank template and beside it an example of problems and resources from a period during which I was dealing with work burnout:

After you complete your lists of problems and resources, one by one, draw lines to connect each of the problems in the inner circle with the internal resources in the outer circle that might help to resolve them. Then, do the same thing with the problems in the inner circle and the external resources in the area outside the doughnut.

Here’s an example of how the problem of exhaustion, common when work/life balance is out of whack, can be linked to potentially helpful internal and external resources. Beside it is the completed CPR.

Note that when you connect problems with resources, the same resource might help with multiple problems. In this example, exercise helps with both exhaustion and depression. Also, multiple resources can help with the same problem. In this example, friends, family, going to the gym, and participating in groups can all be helpful with mitigating isolation.

Next Post: 3. Plan: ReBalancer develops a plan to get us back on our feet.

Copyright 2021, David J. Bookbinder 

Online Courses:
Mastering the Art of Balance: Stay Sane in an Insane World
Art of Balance Basic Training: Stay Sane in an Insane World

The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World
Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas

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