Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Fine Line Between Work and Play

Even though people in Canada and the US are often criticized for working ridiculous hours and not practicing work/life balance, there is a definite trend and growing desire for people to want to combine what they do for work with playtime. People are growing more concerned about defining work/life balance and how health is affected by the ‘all work and no play’ syndrome. However those who consider work ‘play’ and have a hard time defining the two as separate entities, seem to suffer more health and relationship problems when they dwell on this and consciously force themselves to reduce work hours, for it goes against the grain of who they are. An inner tug of war doesn’t increase the beneficial effects of down-time; rather it creates more tension and stress.

As hours spent on the job continually increase, high level leaders want work to be as much a part of the enjoyment of life as the time they spend outside the workplace. This definitely increases the need for coaching as many conflicts arise.

Our culture is forgetting how to play. Coaches can help clients define the line between work and play.

Coaches help clients figure out what it is they want from life, and learn to invent it as those needs are more clearly defined. A critical factor of coaching clients through this way of being is in realizing that while the coach is able to generate powerful interpretations from which the client can benefit, the coach does not hold the truth about what is best, and always works within the emotional and physical space of the client. That is the most important step in defining work/life balance within the individuality of the client.

One size doesn’t fit all when determining what work/life balance is.

It’s up to the individual to define those personal and professional boundaries, not the coach or anyone else for that matter.

Donna Karlin

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Thursday, January 19, 2006


It's been a while since I've written. I've been living a paradox in some ways....an intensely busy schedule, working with clients through a chaotic campaign and election time and keeping up with the business part of coaching as well. At the same time I'm writing a piece to publish on simplicity... Simplifying.

Writing about it is not simple! Every time I thought I had it just right another facet of the term or concept would come to mind which would completely throw me off. Then I started to laugh because as I was writing about this topic, my life continually got more complicated.

Busy times. Wonderful times.

All these incredible opportunities were thrown at my feet, further complicating an already overflowing schedule. I'd sometimes begin with four or five laser quick one-on-one sessions with clients before actually starting my day. Everyone wanting a moment....five minutes....a morning, afternoon...day. Dynamics change on a dime as news of a probable new governing party seem to be coming a reality. I`d find myself in an elevator for long periods of time, for when I'd get to my floor, a client would see me, get on and ask for a minute. Those 'minute or two's' turned into half an hour, 45 minutes...gives a whole new meaning to the term 'portable office'!

Contingencies, strategy....ideas flying and paradigms shifting on a moment to moment basis have been the recent norm, yet still the business of finding the time to keep a business going and creating a future right now has not been simple.

Writing deadlines, think tank meetings, shadowing, all fit like pieces of a puzzle into a day already stretched to the limit. And yet for all the craziness, there's a calm inside me like the eye in the middle of a storm that surrounds me as I watch what unfolds. How many people get to observe history in the making?

If could somehow teach that to clients, colleagues and students alike, how far ahead would they be in taking back control of their lives?

Another thing that came to mind was that simplifying my life doesn't necessarily have to do with doing less. It has to do with what I'm doing with more....how I use my time most wisely without losing sight of what matters most in my life.....the people in it.

As the days get crazier I become more focused. It's not a simple thing to describe, but for me, has become a simple thing to live.

I'd love to know what simplifying your life would mean to you...how you'd define it, live it, and what it would mean to your quality of life.

Where would you begin?

Donna Karlin

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

A City of Contrasts

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

A quote that I’ve read time and time again….one which inspires me to find a way to book ‘that trip’ or explore new places before I talk myself out of it. We all have a million things to do, don’t we? Tasks, work, responsibilities. We can either look back at fond memories of things we tried and places we’ve discovered, or with regret at not plunging into the deep end of life.

Life is a series of them, some of our choosing and others that fall into our laps, delighting us as they unravel the mysteries of life. We not only discover and experience new things, but learn more about ourselves in the process.

I’m just back from visiting my son and his girlfriend in the U.K. I smile when I think of how I tell my friends that my house is an older one….close to 45 or so years old. And then I think of one of the signs in Norwich city centre that said “Home to Mayors and Merchants since 1320”. On moment the city was covered in snow from the biggest blizzard in history to the next where the snow was a distant memory as the sun came out and bathed the city in light, warmth (for that time of year) and melted it completely.

It’s a city of contrasts…medieval, with a castle in the city centre perched on the top of the hill. Old bright red telephone booths are strategically placed through the city usually standing empty as everyone walks with a cell phone, talking away. From the cobblestone streets with the old stately Lloyds of London bank, to the ATM machines right next door, old combines with new.

I explored the streets, spoke to the local people, and took hundreds of pictures as each scene was right out of a story book. I know I have to go back in the spring when all the gardens are in full bloom, everything is lush and green and there is more daylight to discover hidden corners, courtyards and tea shoppes.

I don’t ever want to be disappointed by what I didn’t do. I want to explore, dream and discover something new every day. Where will you ‘set sail’ to next? Even if it’s around the corner, I bet there’s some hidden place just waiting to present itself to you if you go looking.

Enjoy the moments…
Donna Karlin

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