Do you have children who are not fully fledged and parents who are no longer independent? Many of us have made that transition from Baby Boomer to the “Sandwich Generation”. I have been experiencing this squeeze for the past couple of years and have learned a lot about how to juggle priorities, not get caught up in the struggle, serve those I care about and keep myself strong and productive.
But this is nothing new to business owners, is it? Business owners epitomize the sandwich dilemma – customers, employees, family, community, the company. Each has needs – each demands.
But what of self? Yes, but what of self. What is true is that whatever sandwich we might be in, we are the glue, the life raft, the part that holds it all together. And if we don’t take care of ourselves, then those that rely on us will ultimately not do well either.
How can we be sandwiches without getting squished?
I believe a key to not getting squished is being in balance – and the key to being in balance is all about attitude and approach – how do we meet the circumstances that come to us? Below are five aspects where we need to pay attention to remain in balance and a little test to see how you are doing:
Humor is the key to getting through most of life with a sense of perspective, reminding that “this too shall pass”. It can be so easy to get stuck in the quagmire of circumstance and be at the impact of one’s situation rather than living life at choice, being free to meet life on our terms and not as a victim – and the absence of a sense of humor about one’s circumstance is a clear indication that a shift in perspective is in order. Challenge: Consider a current challenge you are facing and see if you can find anything funny about it.
Under stress, health is often the first thing to go – exercise falls off the map, eating habits deteriorate, sleep gets marginalized – sound familiar? Our life will only be as vital as the body that contains it – it is our life raft – if it goes down, so will we, right? There is so much truth to the saying -“You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health”. Challenge: How many times in the last week have you made a conscious choice to take care of yourself – exercised? Chose the healthy food? Took a nap? If the answer is less than 7…..
Contrary to popular belief, happiness is a choice. We need to consciously choose to be happy – waiting for those little bluebirds to fly through the window and brighten our day is not a good tactic. One of the best ways I know to choose happiness is to look around and start counting the things I am grateful for. Even in the worst of times, once I start counting blessings, I can see them everywhere. Challenge: List 10 things you are grateful for – do you feel happier?
We create harmony in our lives, both within ourselves and between ourselves and others. It seems to me that the key to harmony is listening. We get out of harmony with ourselves when we don’t listen to our bodies, our hearts, our spirits – what do we want, what will bring joy to our lives? We get out of harmony with others when we don’t listen as well – have you noticed that sometimes in conversation you know exactly what the other person is going to say? The thing is, that they often don’t say what you expect, but you still hear what you expect rather than what is said. I ‘ve heard it said that there are three conversations going on in any conversation – the one in your head, the one in the other person’s head and the one that is actually happening. Challenge: Use reflective listening in a conversation today, asking questions and getting confirmation of what another is saying to you – really hear someone.
Hope is a tactic, not a strategy for life. A strategy is about the type of life you are committed to having – making a difference, adventure and challenge, peace and serenity – these are all viable strategies for the life you are creating. But hope is what you bring to the party on a regular basis – with every action you take. Challenge: Give an example when you stopped waiting, “wishing and hoping” for your life to be wonderful and took action with a spirit of hope and determination.
If you made it through the challenges, I would love feedback!!!