Printer friendly version of http://www.sideroad.com/seamless/column1.html

The SeamLess Life

Issue # 1 May 8, 1998

What is the SeamLess Life?

Business articles and journals are on the "balance bandwagon." Even the Wall Street Journal has a feature column, Work & Family. Our lives are out of balance, we hear. Our work has overtaken our life. We want something more, something better, something lasting.

Randy Tobias, formerly of AT&T and now CEO, Eli Lilly speaks for many of us; "When it comes time for someone to write my obituary, I don't want to be defined solely by the boxes I happened to occupy on organization charts. As important as this is to me, I want to be defined as the father of my children, as someone who made my community a better place."

Are you reading more about "balance" but finding it less and less possible to achieve? If so, give up the struggle for balance. Instead, begin to create the SeamLess Life™.

Why? The struggle for "balance" simply doesn't work. "Balance" means cutting apart the pieces of your life, putting them artificially into boxes, and weighing them in against each other. Treating them as opponents. Making it a struggle. In the weigh-in before the bout of "Work life vs. home life," work always wins. It's the heavy-weight champion of our world.

Here's how it looks when work wins:

MEET DAN, AN ENTREPRENEUR

Dan is a 38 year old entrepreneur, in his second year of a graphics design start-up. Dan left corporate life because he saw that he wanted MORE. More income, more freedom. More flexibility. More time with his family. More time to play tennis. He does have more income, more choice. But he also has more work, longer hours. Less time with his family. No time to play tennis. He's still happier than he was. He says he's running a business. The truth is, the business is running him.

How do we know? He has enough work, but it's not the kind of work he wants. He wants to upgrade his client base, but he's too busy to do much about it. He's chronically rushed. He takes a full briefcase home and answers e-mails after the kids go to bed. He doesn't exercise, grabs vending machine food for lunch. He misses his son's soccer games more often than he goes. Dan's wife is starting to pressure him to come home before 8 pm for meals, to spend time with the kids. She's starting to create a life of her own out of sheer necessity. She tells him, "you've got to find balance."

She's wrong. Balance isn't enough. He needs to start creating A SeamLess Life™.

This column series will show you how Dan--and you--how to create a life that's SeamLess™. Think of "SeamLess" like a finely designed and tailored suit, where the high quality fabric has marvelous textures. The pieces are invisibly joined by fine stitching--no lumps, no danger of fraying, no threads that pull and unravel the whole.

A SeamLess Life™ is one where:

  • all the parts fit and nestle instead of compete and jostle for your attention
  • you move at a comfortable, natural place--no rushing,
  • you handle details of your life before they become crises or chronic irritations,
  • you get ahead of issues, are proactive vs. reactive,
  • you design your life and your business, for the short and the long term,
  • you have a long view of your life, a sense of the path you are on,
  • your work is an expression of who you are,
  • your needs are met and you’re living out of your values,
  • the way you earn your money matches your sense of personal purpose.

Here's how you start.

CREATING THE SEAMLESS LIFE™

STEP 1. The EFA Mandala Or Life Wheel (Energy, Focus, Attention)

Goal: Crystalline clarity on how you spend your life and what changes or additions you want to move toward. Knowing how you spread yourself across your life.

Life Wheel

1. DRAW A LARGE CIRCLE like the one above, with a smaller circle at its center. In the center circle, write the word BEING. This is your LIFE SPACE.

2. SELECT 8-15 DIMENSIONS that are your list of your CURRENT AND IMMEDIATE FUTURE primary and major-but-secondary dimensions--places where you put energy, time and attention. Feel free to create your own labels or join/modify those below.

Life dimensions list: Percent (%)EFA Satisfaction = 1-7
Primary career and work _________ _________
Primary partners/spouse _________ _________
Family _________ _________
Close friendships _________ _________
Community _________ _________
Hobbies & special interests _________ _________
Colleagues/professional network _________ _________
Rest, relaxation, renewal _________ _________
Self-care and wellness _________ _________
Travel, including commute _________ _________
Personal development/learning _________ _________
Church, spiritual development _________ _________
Financial _________ _________
Other ________________ _________ _________
Other ________________ _________ _________
Other ________________ _________ _________

3. ALLOCATE A PERCENTAGE to each category--the % of your energy, your attention, your focus that each dimensions currently gets. Do this quickly, using your intuition--no analysis. Write the % next to the dimensions' label. For the center BEING circle, determine how much energy/focus/attention you give to just letting yourself BE. Not DOING. Not GROWING. Just BEING.

For Dan, whose story we told earlier, BEING got .1%. Work got 95%. Family got 30%. Many of the other dimensions were 0%. No surprise he was in trouble: his life space was like an overcrowded parking lot.

4. EXAMINE YOUR BASELINE. Add up the total %'s. You're likely to be way above 100%--and that's fine for now. We'll work with the numbers later. Just get a sense of how you spread yourself across your life.

5. SKETCH IN THE DIMENSIONS. Draw your dimensions in your circle, having them take representative space in the circle according to the weight or emphasis you've allocated. Be creative: Place dimensions according to the "next door neighbors" they crowd. Use colors. Draw ragged edges for the dimensions which tend to "leak" across into other dimensions and overwhelm them. Find your way of representing the dimensions as they patch themselves into your life space today.

6. DISCOVER THE "STRETCH." Start to get a sense of which areas are flexible--you can take from or put more into when the need or interest areas.

7. LABEL YOUR LEVEL OF SATISFACTION WITH EACH AREA. Look carefully at the Life Space you've drawn. Now, label your level of personal pleasure satisfaction (a) with each dimension, and (b) with the whole Life Space, using a scale of 1-7, where:

  • 1 = not at all satisfied
  • 7 = absolutely satisfied

8. Identify some first-cut answers to the following:

a. Here's where I'm over-invested, overcommitted

______________________________________________

b. Here's where I'm under-invested, undercommitted:

____________________________________________

c. Here are the places where my life areas "rub" each other, where they are definitely not SeamLess™:

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

__________________________________________

9. Repeat steps 1-8, but for the life space as you want it to be. Create a new mandala or life wheel. Label it A SEAMLESS LIFE™. Assign the %'s of EFA that will bring you the life you want to lead, one where you will thrive;The SeamLess Life™. Compare this life space mandala with the first.

10. Identify 2 or 3 small steps you can take this week to bring your life closer to Circle 2.

In our next 6 columns, we will show you how to go from where you are now to a more SeamLess Life™. For now, keep your 2 Life Space Circles out on your desk. For every decision you make, ask yourself. . . How can I make this decision so that it brings me closer to my SeamLess Life™ circle? Then, take action accordingly.


Debuting Friday, May 22:

Issue# 2 - Swatting the Gnats of Your Life

Need help with your Mandala? E-Mail us with questions or suggestions. Sherry can be reached at sherry@sherrylowry.com.

Diane and Sherry's book, Discovering Your Best Self Through the Art of Coaching, can be ordered at http://www.sherrylowry.com/book.htm.


Back to the Column

Text © Diane Menendez & Sherry Lowry, 1998, 1999. Part of the original Sideroad.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.