This Sunday I was asked to read a quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the the First Presidency of my church. He says:
“May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones. “
Easier said than done. Why is this so hard? At least for me, this is the great challenge of life. I love my job, but I have always been bad at balancing the demands of work and life. Especially as my business has begun to change there seems to be an unending number of projects and opportunities. Just this weekend I got a new client, which is a tremendous chance to improve my standing as a property manager and make some good money along the way. It is a connection and opportunity I need to add more clients besides my father. As grateful as I am, it is also one more thing to balance in my life.
Right now there are so many things left undone. I haven’t started real estate courses I’ve paid for. I haven’t done much on sales tax for Grabber; and I still have tons of work on Grabber events. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are spaces this fall in the Anna and Madeline to get reserved, a client with 25 homes I would love to work with more, a guest blog I have committed to write and edit, and this new home I need to find tenants for. I have agreed to all of these projects and I know they will bring in more money and help my career. In addition to work I have church responsibilities, temple work, family, and a million creative projects I would love to tackle. I love entertaining, gathering with friends, cooking, swimming, community service, politics, singing, and reading. With a few exceptions, I am afraid lately work has been trumping all of these noble endeavors. I want to be better at balancing my life but I find it very challenging.
My sister once told me I was a workaholic, and I think there is some truth to that. I hate unfinished projects. I think part of it is growing up with a little bit of dyslexia. This made projects and homework more difficult and time consuming than for my friends. In college, I worked harder than most of my classmates and yet my grades were not as high as I felt they should be. I have a great memory and still recall lectures, books, teachers from college, yet in some of those same classes I scored Cs and Bs. Isn’t that weird? I clearly learned the required material and was impacted by it but my grades didn’t show? This taught me that any assignment, task, job, responsibility I had was going to take twice the work from me as it did for anyone else for the same results. I am not saying this to engender sympathy. It’s just the way it is. Even when I was getting my MBA other students appeared to coast when I spent hours on projects (at least in that case I got the A’s almost every time for my hard work!).
The hardest thing for me is having true relaxation time. This is particularly true since I work at home and am never far from the call of my cell phone or the ever present email. I know there are reservations I have gotten because I was the first to respond and this keeps me constantly checking and rechecking. Having the phone off for an evening makes me nervous. In fact, just the other day I turned my phone on silence and missed out on a reservation for our vacation rental that would have been great. My dad ended up taking the call, so perhaps they would not have agreed to rent with us anyways (if my dad can’t sell it, nobody can. He’s a great salesman). My brain is constantly going about how I can make things better, get more sales, satisfy clients and be more of a success. I have had insomnia for over a year because I can’t stop thinking about work.
I don’t want to sound like I am complaining because one of my greatest joys in my life is work. I love what I do. I love how it uses all my talents and yet challenges me each day. I love the people I meet, the freedom I enjoy, the variety of tasks, and flexibility. I love the relationship I have developed with my dad through this job and feel we are closer than ever before (that is perhaps the greatest gift of my job). I love feeling like I finally contribute to society in a meaningful way and help make people happy- either on vacation or in their permanent home. Because I know what it feels like to be unhappy in work, I will do whatever it takes to keep my current job and be a success at it. Maybe everyone who owns their own company goes through this? Maybe it is the price to be paid? My dad said when he was self-employed in Maryland that he worked 70 hour work weeks. He worked from home and worked very hard but it never seemed to be an obsession or over-powering influence on his life. In fact, he managed to own his own business while my mother was bedridden when she was pregnant with Sammy. How he was able to do that and remain so outwardly calm and collected I will never know. It is amazing.
One thing I have to remember is I always find a way to pull things off. I worry about getting projects done but then I always do. It’s like with the Grabber Events. I thought it was going to be impossible to get the calendar submitted by the end of August and yet somehow I made it (September 3rd to be precise)! It was done and up to my standards. I worked hard and the Lord did expand my capacity in the month of August, and I am so grateful for His help.
I would love to hear some advice from all of you- especially if you work at home or for yourself- on how you separate work, family, friend and time for yourself? How do you know when to say no to projects? How do you not “set goals beyond your capacity to achieve”? I don’t even know what my real capacity to achieve is. I always think I can do more, be more, and make more of a difference. How do you truly relax and feel rejuvenated? Even today, on this holiday, I feel a pressure to work that is hard to describe. How do you turn that off?