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Article: The Back Burner Related Resources

The Back Burner
by Sharon Teitelbaum

My clients say the best things! Last year, while naming some of the things on his "back burner," one of my clients said, "I'm just afraid some of these things are on the back burner of someone else's stove!" We both laughed in recognition of this truth.

Once we're past our 30's, we see how quickly time flies, and how easy it is to get so caught up in the rush and tingle of everyday life that we forget some of our commitments to ourselves. We put something on the back burner, and it can be YEARS until we notice it back there. If we notice it at all.

One of the perks that midlife offers is the chance to revisit what we've postponed in our lives. Yes, midlife often brings chaos and angst, which forces us to step back and re-asses our priorities and values. And it also brings us face to face with the things we've postponed until now.

And now there are choices to be made, item by item. Do you keep "have a garden" on your "someday maybe" list or do you decide to truck in some decent soil THIS SPRING and grow some tomatoes already? Do you finally start making more time for friends, or do you stay committed to your adrenaline-laced schedule that keeps you on the run? These are the kinds of choices that come up to the conscious level at midlife.


So what's on your back burner? Here are some suggestions for investigating this question.

1. Start a running list of the things you have on your back burner. It may take you up to a month to remember all of what's back there.

2. For each one, name the pleasures or satisfactions it would afford you.

3. Which would be the most rewarding one to finally DO?

4. Do you have resistance to doing it? If so, articulate it. (You know, "I don't have the time, I don't have the money, I'm not fill-in-the-blank enough, what would people say, etc." )

5. Respond to the resistance, line by line, as if you were a compassionate friend who wants you to have what your heart longs for.

6. Choose at least one thing from the list to bring into your life.

7. Identify the next step toward having it, and write in into your active "To Do" list.

Sharon Teitelbaum may be contacted at

Sharon Teitelbaum,, a Master Certified Work-Life and Career Coach, works with high achievers, people at mid-career, and professionals seeking greater career satisfaction and work-life balance. She coaches by phone and in person in Boston. Her newsletter, Strategies For Change, offers practical tips for work-life success. Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: Restoring Work-Life Balance is Sharon's most recent book. Sharon also also delivers keynotes & workshops on work-life issues. Clients include Children’s Hospital Boston, Merrill Lynch, Arnold Worldwide, professional organizations and alumni groups. She's been featured in national publications including The New York Times,, and Working Mother Magazine. Married for 30 years, she is the mother of two amazing young women.

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