Success Builders Inc. Article of The Month
October, 2000

Is Denial Preventing You From Having a Balanced Life?
By Barbara Poole

Mike is a 46-year old advertising executive with a high-pressure job in a major city. His day begins at around 6:00 am with a quick shower and shave, after which he logs on to his e-mail to make sure he hasn't missed anything critical during the night. Armed with pager, cell phone, Palm Pilot, notebook, the Wall Street Journal and a cup of black coffee, he air-kisses his wife and kids good-by as he races out the door to begin the morning commute.

After finally finding a parking space, he makes a mad dash to his office to grab some files for the 8:00 meeting that is just getting underway. Four meetings and countless interruptions later, he notices his stomach is grumbling and remembers he forgot to scarf down his usual bagel with all that coffee. Not to worry. He's meeting his partner for lunch in a half-hour to review the final draft of a big proposal before they send it out to a client. When he returns from lunch to the office, he has 18 voice mail messages waiting for him, including one from his wife reminding him that their son David's little league game is at 7:30 pm. Mike glances at his watch and smiles as he challenges himself to play beat the clock so that he can get out of the office in time to make David's game.

At 7:15 pm, Mike is stuck in late rush hour traffic, cursing the road construction and blocked lanes that have slowed the exodus from the city down to a standstill. He decides to take an alternate route, drives a half-mile down the shoulder of the road to the next exit and peels off the highway to find a shortcut through several residential neighborhoods.

When he finally makes it to the baseball field, the game is in the fourth inning and David's team is up by 3. They win the game, and the family decides to go for pizza on the way home. While waiting for their order, Mike pulls out his cell phone to call the office and make sure the proposal went out as planned. He gets paged twice on the way home, by his partner who wants to discuss strategy for the next morning's meeting and a client who wants to know why their commercial didn't show up on prime time. After returning the calls at home, he finally collapses into the bed around 10:00 pm, knowing he will wake up in the middle of the night to do some planning for the next day.

What makes Mike's situation so amazing is that if you ask him how balanced his life is, he will tell you he's in great shape. He has a job he loves, a beautiful wife and kids, and plenty of money in the bank. What he won't tell you, and maybe won't tell himself, is that those middle of the night bouts with insomnia are increasing, his stomach is churning regularly, and he's had to cancel his last three racquetball games because of business commitments. Mike is out of balance, but he refuses to acknowledge it. It's as if he has a big "S" across his chest that he believes allows him to burn the candle at both ends without having to pay the price.

Denial is one of the biggest contributors to lives out of balance. We all want to believe that we can handle a fast paced schedule, spin lots of plates in the air, and cover all of our bases without any negative effects. Could denial be at work in your life? Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I frequently find myself multi-tasking, doing several things at once without really experiencing or enjoying any of them?
2. Do I play beat the clock throughout the day, racing from one thing to the next with no reserves of time?
3. Am I experiencing any physical symptoms indicative of stress, such as headaches, insomnia, gastro-intestinal disturbances, muscle tension, etc.?
4. Can I relax, sit back and do nothing, or do I find myself getting fidgety and antsy when I try to relax?
5. When was the last time I experienced pure, unadulterated, childlike joy?

Coaching Tip: If denial is contributing to your life being out of balance, the first thing to do is give yourself permission to tell the truth about how you are feeling. Ask for support from those you love. Acknowledging your balance challenges doesn't mean you're weak, and it just might be the first step to reclaiming a life that works for you.

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