Having it "All"

By Davon Cook on August 17, 2017

As I write this column on finding balance between work and personal life, I am trying to do the same myself:  juggling nine intense days of county fair with my children showing livestock, making work phone calls while standing outside the barn, catching up on email at 10 pm while exhausted and stinky, trying to get the pig into the show ring just right and, on top of it all, making sure my family is fed!  Whatever your hobbies or obligations, we all struggle at some point in time (or perhaps all points of time!) with the concept of finding the right balance between work, family, personal time, community and faith obligations.

Early in my career in the corporate world, I benefited from intentional mentorship programs, especially for women trying to figure out their future trajectory.  There was a common mantra, "You can have it all -- you just may not have it 'all' at the same time."  Notice the emphasis on "all."  Whatever "all" means to you -- expanding the business significantly, or being deeply involved in your kids' activities, or running for school board, or whatever -- it may happen in phases.  That was the wise message I received many years ago.  I've tried to keep that in mind as different parts of my life ebb and flow.  I heard a successful agri-businessman share a similar idea with an audience recently.  He intentionally limited his community and industry commitments when his children were small, knowing those things could flourish later in life.

I urge you to reflect on which "all" should receive priority in this phase of your life.  And what level of performance is acceptable to you in the other areas during this phase?  Meaning, what is "good enough" to be successful but also provide opportunity for some balance?  In an ag operation, the priority may vary by season.  Likely, there is also a long-term variation considering the life cycles of your family and your business.

I have found that balance doesn't happen without intentional effort and commitment.  What choices have you made to find your balance?