Do you struggle to find a healthy balance between your personal life and your work life? Do you feel guilty while you’re at your son’s soccer game that you left the office with at least a dozen unanswered emails? While you are staring out at a beautiful Saturday morning while spending yet another weekend at your desk, do you lament the fact that you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed a few hours with your buddies on the golf course?
Well, try digesting the concept that we are not just facing the need to find a work-life balance, but that we each have seven lives that we are trying to juggle at all times — family self, social self, spiritual self, material self, physical self, avocational self, and career self.
In a new book by Eric Sinoway entitled Howard’s Gift: Uncommon Wisdom to Inspire Your Life’s Work, he shares the wisdom he has learned from friend and Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson, including the notion that we spend our lives trying to earn perfect grades in all seven areas I just listed, and such effort only leads to frustration and a sense of failure. Instead, Stevenson argues that these seven pieces are dynamic components in our lives that are shifting in priority depending where we find ourselves in any given year and we never should try to master them all at once.
Stevenson believes that we can seek a sense of balance between all of these parts of self we are juggling by asking ourselves questions on a regular basis. I loved my profession three years ago — do I still feel the same way? What do I feel is missing in life? What makes me happy? Use your answers to move some priorities around.
Sinoway wrote this book after Professor Stevenson had a massive heart attack on Harvard’s campus and was deemed incredibly fortunate to survive.; he realized that perhaps he almost missed an opportunity to capture some important ideas from his friend and the chance to share these ideas with the world.
What do you think of the seven selves? Do you see all of them at play in your life? Do you take active, conscious steps to keep the different parts of your life in balance in a way that makes sense with how you are living right now?