A Realization
Kristine Darling, Energy Northwest, U.S. WIN Region IV Coordinator



It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago we were in Richmond. I hope you all found the U.S. WIN National Conference to be beneficial and had the opportunity to network with others in the industry! I know that getting to see so many of you face-to-face and meeting you all was a highlight of the conference! For me, putting faces with names that we may see on the screen during calls is so helpful. I wanted to share a huge takeaway that I learned and have been reflecting on from the conference. The takeaway was driven by a couple of the sessions that we had at the national conference, our Region IV Sunday Professional Development session and the Professional Development class that was offered on Wednesday by U.S. WIN. With that said, I am going to be pretty vulnerable right now and share some things that I hope will encourage you if you are in the same place I have been in and am trying to find my way out.

Leading up to the conference, many of you heard from previous meetings, or in motivational moments, that I struggle with work/life balance.  I never really wanted to figure out how to get the balance right and have continually just added more to my “plate” whether it be personal or professional (mostly work) to keep me busy and to satisfy my love for learning and growing. I have never thought anything different, thought that would always fill my “bucket,” and that because I enjoy my job so much, I really didn’t need to have much of a life outside work. Yes, I had a few people tell me that I am a workaholic and that my life should not revolve around work, but I chose to just continue down my path. A few weeks ago, while getting ready for not only the national conference, but also the region conference, I was working a lot. I was trying to get my normal job done, along with getting everything ready for the region conference, as well as the responsibilities as a facilitator for the closing plenary at the national conference. Then, first thing happened: I was at an appointment the day before I was to fly to Richmond and a random stranger hit my car in the parking lot of where my appointment was. Definitely not what I needed, but I’ll add to my list to deal with insurance, etc. when I get back. The travel day went smoothly (thank goodness).

From the moment I hit the ground in Richmond until Wednesday afternoon, things for me were non-stop. I couldn’t leave behind my normal job, as I had deadlines to meet and had to get things closed out, so I was always busy….working…dealing with one situation/deadline after another. It went so far that a couple of nights were either room service or I “Ubered” dinner to the hotel. By Monday’s closing plenary session, I walked out of there feeling defeated. If you were there, you remember our speaker talking about energy levels 1-7 (surviving – adapting – thriving). That night after I got back to my room, I worked, not putting things together in my head from all I had heard from our speakers, but also drawing from our region’s Professional Development topic on Saturday. By Wednesday (trust me, Tuesday was just as busy, just not as much on this topic) we sat through this wonderful Franklin Covey class and at the end of it you ask yourself a few pointed questions: “What do I do to relax? Why am I not sleeping enough? How do I fill my bucket up? Do I fill it up enough?”

When the day was done, I went ahead and drove to Virginia Beach to do some light shopping and see the ocean. However, my short little drive turned into a much longer drive (thanks Waze directions) through small little towns that were so cool and it was ultimately the best mistake that I did with directions. This long way gave me some time to just be a tourist and look at the cute houses and the plantations and the little towns along the way. I finally got to my destination and walked to the beach and everything that I have talked about hit me. I need to fill my bucket. I need to take time for me. I need to have a life away from work…more importantly, I need to do more than survive, I need to thrive! I really do deserve all of that, and for that matter, we all do!

What does all this mean? Yes, I am staying in my current role (not leaving any time soon, for those that may be curious), as I have a huge passion and desire for U.S. WIN Region IV. I also know that I need to figure out what I need to adjust to achieve the time for me and figure out what fills my bucket up. I need to find time to have relationships away from work, and more importantly, a life outside of work. I have huge aspirations to be in Senior Leadership one day, but I also know that is not achievable if I don’t take care of me now.

I hope that you find this message encouraging. I wanted to provide you with a bit of insight to what I learned and am working on now that the conference is over. Take the time for you, fill your bucket up, don’t settle for surviving, go for thriving.