What is pulling you? - I spent a week in the woods. It was fantastic. I turned off my cell phone and locked it in the glove box for the entire week. My family joined another family and camped in a state park. The week was extremely relaxing and invigorating. I read a book. I began to wonder when was the last time I read a book? To be honest, I couldn’t recall. It’s times like these that seem to breathe new life into us and provide us with a new sense of energy.
As I took some time to catch up with an old friend, we found the conversation focusing on the different areas of our lives. Assessing how well each area was doing. “How’s the job?” “Are you still doing that hobby?” “How is your family doing with (fill in the blank)?” …etc.
This reminded me of an analogy I had heard years ago. The analogy is one of a dog sled. Each different area of your life that provides satisfaction is a sled dog. Most of us feel like we need to be moving forward; improving on a regular basis. Although we can be faced with challenges in different areas, often times we can still feel like we are improving. For me, the dogs (in no particular order) are: work, my wife, my children, music, friends and volunteer interests. Each one of these areas, when going smoothly and the dogs are running full speed, provides a level of satisfaction that keeps me feeling positive about my life and my sled moving forward.
The beauty of this analogy is that it recognizes the reality that not all the dogs will be running at the same time. There will be times when my children will frustrate me or when I am not spending enough time on my volunteer interests. It’s these times that I rely on the other areas of my life to keep the sled moving forward. In these times, we often spend longer hours at work or need to get away with our spouse for a break. By focusing on the other areas of your life, you have the renewed energy to revisit the sleeping dogs and get them moving again. If you ignore the weaker areas of your life, it puts all the pressure on the remaining areas to give you the satisfaction you need. This creates stress at the office or in your personal relationships that is misguided and will cause problems in the long run. There are certainly times when we feel like Yukon Cornelius and all the sled dogs are on the sled, but luckily for most of us, those times are short lived.
So take some time to look at what areas of your life are most important. If you have sleeping dogs, spend some time getting them moving again. Take your spouse on a date, finish that project at the office that has being weighing on your mind, reach out to an old friend that you have been meaning to call. Trust me, the more dogs you have pulling, the less you rely on work to provide fulfillment and work will feel much more rewarding, possibly even fun!