How much is enough?

My husband has always managed to balance work and play. Many years ago he said to me, after I’d logged another 50 hour week, “What do you want your tombstone to read, Joan? ‘She was a really hard worker?’” Don’t you just hate it when they’re right?
And it didn’t stop there. He had his ways. Most notable of which was his tactic of planning trips and saying, “Well, I’m going…if you’d prefer to stay here and work, that’s up to you.” No drama. No accusations. Just a choice. Heck, we are both self-employed, but why was my boss so much more demanding than his?
After a few missed trips, he started a new mantra. “So how much is enough, Joan?” Apparently, judging by the way I was driving myself, it was never going to be enough.
I don’t know when it happened. There was no catastrophe, where I was struck by a terrible disease which finally gave me the Carpe Diem wake-up call. I just slowly started changing. Rather than always being the friend who waited until someone invited me, I began to proactively reach out to them. There was a first “girlfriend trip” (with many more to follow, once I figured out how much fun I’d been missing!).
I gradually change my thinking about working out, too. It used to be something I had to shoehorn into a day, picking only those fast-paced activities I could do in the minimum amount of time. Little did I know how much joy there is in a bike ride on some of the fabulous trails in Wisconsin, or a hike in one of the great state parks. I’d been a tomboy as a kid, who had spent endless summer days building forts and collecting bugs and crawfish-- why had I just turned my back on the outdoors as an adult?
Summer is sliding by quickly and if you don’t put on the brakes and enjoy it, how will you feel about it next January (not to mention when you are up close and personal with your own tombstone). You may not have a flexible schedule but you can still take control of how you spend your time.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Instead of getting to the office an hour early to pound out some emails, go to an open-air coffee shop. You may still need to shrink the email list but the atmosphere will make you feel so much better about it.
  • Plan something with a friend. If you haven’t been to a ball game, gone golfing or fishing, take the initiative and get it on the calendar.
  • Do something different this summer with the family. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time. A day at a theme park, a surprise picnic in the park, spending the day at the beach, going to the zoo. Instead of operating on automatic, check the paper for upcoming events, or act on an impulse. And leave all the electronic devices at home.
  • Walk at lunch. Rather than eating a sandwich at your desk, put on your sneakers and get outside. If you meet people for lunch, suggest a walking lunch to a nearby burger stand and then eat it in the park.
  • If you are a manager, hold a meeting outside. Recently I was in a hotel, facilitating an all-day meeting with an executive team. After a good session in the morning, I could see energy flagging by mid-afternoon. I suggested we drag our chairs outside and sit under a pergola. Their eyes lit up when they could see I was serious. The energy returned and so did the creativity. Some of the outside noise made us draw closer together, so we could hear each other. That simple thing caused more intimacy and honest than I’d seen all morning.
  • Charter a boat and take your team fishing. You may see sides of your team you didn’t even know where there. Even people who won’t touch a pole will enjoy the camaraderie and the experience.
  • If you drive by a park, or other scenic place, on your way home from work every day, resolve to pack some walking shoes and stop on the way home. It will help you shake off the day and transition into a more relaxed state, so you arrive home refreshed.
So, what is your tombstone going to read? How much is enough?

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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