Have you ever mis-judged someone? I mean really misjudged them? Believing you’d never get on with someone, only to discover they are the best mentor you’ve ever had? This is kind of how I feel about the woman described in Proverbs 31. I totally misjudged her.
I thought she was similar to some of the women I knew who worked themselves to the bone for others, and were constantly tired. I thought to be like her I’d have to be a submissive doormat, who stayed home sewing all day long, and that was not my idea of fun!
As I described in a previous post, I spent a while looking at this passage wondering why God would ever include it in the Bible. As I went through it I realised how wrong I’d been. She has now become one of my mentors, and her life has given me a blueprint to gaining better work life balance.
I’d love to say that I’m now living the perfect life but sadly that’s not true. However when things do go a bit crazy I can quickly see what is needed to restore order. As I’ve written about her over the past few weeks it’s helped to consolidate it down to 10 keys.
- Invest in the relationships that mean the most. She is a busy entrepreneur involved in many projects and yet her family call her blessed and praise her. They clearly don’t feel neglected by her or begrudge her being a workaholic.
- Keep learning new things. Whether it’s learning new ways to cook, or investing in a new business, this woman is always learning something new. She hasn’t allowed herself to settle or stagnate but is constantly learning.
- Have a creative outlet. Ok so the reality is this woman did sew, but that doesn’t mean to say I have to. God is a creative being and we are made in His image so it’s important to have a way to express that however that looks. It’s amazing how quickly my stress levels drop when I do something creative.
- Give yourself head space to plan ahead. My life is often most stressful when I simply don’t have time to stop and plan ahead. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing everything last minute but it just piles on extra pressure. So I’m doing my best to copy my mentor and I’ve already made a note of who needs a new winter coat for next winter.
- Nurture your spirit. I believe anyone can implement these principles and bring more balance to their lives. For me though, this is the key that everything else flows from. There’s only so much I can do on my own but when I submit to God, and rely on Him, everything else works so much better.
- Look after your body. When it talks about her girding her arms with strength it probably doesn’t mean she went to the gym. It’s more likely to mean she rolls up her sleeves and is prepared to work. However you can’t work if you’re not healthy. She would have been quite fit as her work was a lot more physically demanding than mine. So this is my reminder to look after my fitness.
- Use your talents and passions to generate income. From her passion for sewing she created items to sell to the merchants. The same merchants that she used to gain her “food from afar”. Her love for food was possibly the inspiration behind her starting up her own vineyard. I believe God gives each of us the ability to gain wealth and it’s up to us to recognise our gifts and find a way to serve others with them.
- Do life with others. I mistakenly believed she was super woman because I didn’t realise how many other people were in her life helping make it all happen. You can never achieve work life balance if you try to spin all the plates by yourself. God created us to be interdependent with each other so that together we are stronger.
- Have a place where you take risks & a place that is safe and stable. This woman has a very stable home and family which gave her the foundation from which to start her businesses. We grow and develop as we take risks, but our growth is stronger if we have stable roots supporting us.
- Make time for yourself Life is to be enjoyed and sometimes it’s just good to kick back and do something just because you love it.
It would be easy to add to this list and, as I continue to write these posts, I may well do. I’m aware there’s nothing in there about being generous towards the poor or investing words of wisdom into the lives of others. Maybe those are characteristics rather than keys?
So what else have I missed? What would you include in your 10 keys for work life balance?