Check it out: I’ll be appearing on Maggie Mistal’s radio show on the Martha Stewart Radio Network, Wednesday, January 21st at 4:00 pm EST. Get tips for a better work+life fit in 2009! Tune in on Sirius 112 or XM 157. Call in and ask your question at 1-866-675-6675.
Now back to the blog…
Oprah launched her “Best Life” series last week “making the commitment to have more joy and balance in 2009.” But if you watched all five episodes (which I did—full disclosure, I’m a fan), you saw that what she’s really trying to do is manage her work+life “fit” better.
She’s not calling it work+life fit, but if she did I think it would help her and her viewers understand the real issues more clearly. It would connect the dots between the “life” advice provided by the health, money and spirituality experts in the later episodes. But, more importantly, it would highlight the fact that a very important piece of the equation is missing from the series—how to manage work, and how that work “fits” into what’s happening in the rest of your life.
Although the focus has been on her weight gain, Oprah knows that’s a symptom and not an underlying cause. According to highlights from the show on her website, When Oprah gains weight, she says it means her life is out of balance. “It’s not about the food. It’s about using food—abusing food,” she says, “Too much work. Not enough play. Not enough time to come down. Not enough time to really relax.”
But the problem is not a lack of “balance.” It’s a lack of actively managing her work+life fit when the realities in her work and personal life changed over the past year. As a result, she was just adding more and more until it became too much.
What do I mean? I took the liberty of imagining what the information in opening episode would look like if presented from the work+life “fit” perspective. See if you think it more accurately reflects the real issues that Oprah, and so many other people, are trying to address:
“Oprah Finds Her Best Work+Life Fit”
As Oprah shares her story of “falling off the wagon,” she talks about the changes in her work and personal life over the past year. And discusses how, by failing to rethink her work+life fit in response to those changes, she became sick and overwhelmed.
When she says, “I’m hungry to do something other than work,” She shares that her dog died, and how grief not only requires time, but takes a lot of energy. She talks about campaigning for Barack Obama, dealing with challenges at the school she founded in Africa, and deciding to start a television network. And then she confesses that she didn’t reset her work+life fit by deciding what she would give up both personally and professionally to account for these changes. As a result, she gave more than the 100% she had to give, and cut out the activities that are easiest to eliminate—all of the things we do to take care of ourselves.
We can give more than 100% for a period of time, but eventually the wheels begin to fall off the bus. Oprah talks about how overwhelmed and disconnected she was from the inner guidance telling her it was too much. Then the physical signs started, which included sleeplessness, weight gain, and thyroid disease. Oprah explains that her weight gain and thyroid condition were the physical manifestations of that lack of work+life fit. There was no room for healthy eating, exercise, writing in her gratitude journal, and taking a relaxing bath.
She points out that it’s not just about the hours in the day. It’s also about the energy expended to deal with your responsibilities. Sometimes more energy is required than time. But, like everyone else, she didn’t pay as much attention to energy deficits as she did to the lack of time. And it became a downward spiral. There’s less time to take care of yourself, which results in less energy and it goes on from there.
Finally, she closes by admitting that she’ll never have “balance. But in 2009, she’s going to take control and find the “fit” that works for her, and restores her health.
Roll the closing credits….
The rest of the week-long series would remain the same with experts offering advice on a variety of topics critical to finding your Best Life, or managing your work+life fit. This includes exercise, managing your health, spirituality, money and sex.
However, I would add that missing episode on how to manage your work-related responsibilities day-to-day and throughout your career especially in this economy. Managing your work+life fit is a two-sided equation. Even though she chose not to cover it in the Best Life series, I would imagine managing the work piece of the puzzle is a big part of Oprah’s challenge, as it is for many others. Is she delegating more responsibilities? Is she saying “no” to any additional projects, so that she has the time and energy to take care of herself?
Whether she realizes it or not, Oprah is trying to manage her work+life fit better in 2009. It’s not about weight. That’s just a symptom of a work+life fit out of whack. It’s about knowing what you want and then actively managing your choices and resetting the way work “fits” into your life, especially when your work and personal realities change.
To learn from Oprah’s journey, check out the Best Life episodes and webcasts on Oprah.com, and let me know if you agree with me—Oprah is trying to find a better work+life fit! Now, if she’d just call it that…