Stress and planning are a part of life - there is no way around it. But if you are strategic you can diminish stress's role in your everyday life. Read on for tips on using strategic, informed thinking to make sure the next stage of your life is the best it can possibly be.
Personal business involves almost everything in your life outside of your work -- managing your health and finances; taking care of the relationships you have with your family, parents, and friends; planning for your children’s future, a new house, or a new job; taking care of an aging parent; beginning retirement; and, ultimately, managing your own incapacity, including planning what you want to happen at the end of your life, which, in reality, can happen at any time.
Just as time flies whether you are having fun or not, the next stage of your life will come whether you plan for it or you don’t. Assuming that you are a midlife business or professional woman, beyond seeking to balance life and work, you long to integrate your personal and business lives and to live in wholeness. That does not happen by accident. Leaving critical life choices to chance is not a recipe for the best next stage of your life. Making life’s critical choices with the help of strategic thinking and advanced planning can put you on the right path.
Midlife business and professional women often find that their struggle to balance the demands and challenges of career and work with their competing responsibilities for their families, including their aging parents, peaks at this time in their lives when they are also facing profound personal changes. Getting from this pivotal stage of life to the next one with a focus on making that next one the best it can be is rarely at the top of their long lists of things to do. Each day might be filled with the stress that comes from handling one reaction to crisis after another with little time carved out to anticipate and plan for what is next. But, it does not have to be this way.
Many women know how to use strategic, informed thinking to anticipate challenges and maximize opportunities for optimal planning in their businesses and careers. Yet, ironically, most fail to apply these same skills more broadly to achieve an integrated and satisfying life. It is important to use these well-honed skills to address your personal business, as well. The payoff can be life-changing. You can avoid the disruption and costs in time, energy, and money associated with unanticipated crises, thus minimizing related stress. Personal business planning can help you to imagine and create the best next stage of life, including being prepared to face the end of life – yours or your parents’-- with confidence and peace of mind.
Here is a real-life example to prove the point. Jane is 50 years old and lives in New Orleans; one sister, a lawyer, is 54 and lives in Texas; the third is 48 and lives in Pennsylvania near their mother, 85, who lives alone. Their father died five years ago, leaving their mother living alone in their home of many years, in relatively good health and with no plan for her future care. Their mother gradually begins to show signs of dementia suggesting her inability to continue caring for herself. The three dispersed daughters begin a sequential, yearlong series of in-home, month-long "caretaking visits" to care for their failing mother, taking time out from their professional and parental responsibilities at their own homes. Over one weekend, one sister suffers a health crisis herself that results in her hospitalization and extended recovery, and their mother also becomes ill and dies unexpectedly.
The three sisters had never discussed a plan to manage their mother’s or their father’s last stage of life. This left them scrambling to care for their mother "long distance" without an organized plan to handle her medical needs, finances, legal, or "family relationship end-of-life" issues as they arose. In addition to attempting to continue their own personal and professional lives at home, they now had to create and implement an improvised plan – quickly, by long-distance, and "after the fact." This disruption of their normal daily lives, long-distance travel, and attendant financial costs created, in turn, significant stress. With loving, thoughtful, and considerate prior planning among the three sisters and their mother, this all too common scenario not only could have been avoided, but the way could have been cleared for a more comfortable, gratifying, and even beautiful last stage of life with their mother.
Like any business planning, personal business planning requires more than good intentions and procrastination. It requires a purposeful commitment, a place on the calendar, careful time and attention, and periodic reevaluation.
The four key steps in the process are: preparing yourself for the process; taking stock and imagining what is next; setting goals and making a plan; and taking action to implement the plan, with ongoing evaluation and midcourse corrections as indicated. Although personal business planning is not easy, it is a necessary first step worth taking toward the quality of life you envision and choose coupled with the joy and stress-free peace of mind you deserve.
Reprinted from www.womenetics.com.