We are bombarded with information on the importance of work/life balance. I am not a believer that such a thing exists. In fact, the quest for work/life balance alone can become a significant stressor in our lives. I am, however, a strong believer in ‘managed imbalance’ that recognizes an integrated dynamic relationship between your professional life and your personal life.
Many years ago, I read the phrase ‘the tyranny of the shoulds’. It was from a book on cognitive behavioural therapy, and it described how our actions are often prompted by our desire to live up to others expectation, often deeply rooted by authority figures in our formative years. Sometimes these external expectations can be more contemporary and emanate from friends, family, our boss, or societal expectations from cultural norms and the media. Today this is compounded by the proliferation of advice in social media and implicit standards to live up to. The 'tyranny of the shoulds' resonated with me and stuck with me all these years. Society and current culture often imposes ideal conditions for us to live up to.
I believe the elusive work/life balance now ranks high in the list of the current ‘tyranny of the shoulds’.
It has been my experience that females have more ’should’ imperatives than their male counterparts. A certain double standard still exists. To my female readers, resist this with forceful but compassionate energy and examine how you are impacted by the ‘tyranny of the shoulds’, and decide whether you will surrender to, or resist the tyranny!
Work/life balance suggests a separation of your work life and your personal life. Modern technology is as responsible as anything else for a blurring of these boundaries. Your cell phone/iPad/tablet makes it almost impossible to separate your personal life during work hours, and your work life in your personal hours. Be mindful of the impact of your technology and how you deploy it.
What is ‘managed imbalance‘? While it’s certainly not a defined term in any dictionary! This is my way of integrating aspects of my personal life and my work life in harmony with one another. To me it means not trying to put rigid barriers of time around those things that are important to my overall happiness and well-being, but blending them. As selfish as it sounds, it starts with me.
It took me a while to figure this out, but if I don’t look after myself first, I can’t possibly meet my obligations to my family, my work, my community, and my friends. I have to manage sufficient time for rest, recreation, exercise and blissful solitude. For me, blissful solitude means moments of quiet and contemplation while on my own. For you, it might mean yoga, or meditation, or a peaceful walk. I strongly recommend that work/life ‘managed imbalance’ start with you.
‘Managed imbalance’ means allowing time for what is crucial in your personal life, and work life. It is blending and weaving that what is important to you as a person, a spouse, a parent, a boss, an employee, a community member, a child, ~~~well, you get it. It is combining and intertwining time and attention while you wear the various hats required in your existence. It means compromise, and consensus amongst the stakeholders in both aspects of your life. Admittedly, easier said than done! One of your toughest compromise negotiations may well be with yourself!
I’m told that multitasking is a great way to save time that can be used in achieving work/life balance. I’m not a fan of multitasking. It implies to me that you are often responding to distraction rather than focusing on what needs to be done and being in the moment. I’m a strong believer in being laser focused in the moment. Nothing disconnects you faster in an interpersonal situation than occasionally looking up at someone when they’re speaking to you while you’re typing on your cell phone and grunting “uh-huh” every once and a while. I have seen in my own life, and from years of observing others that multitasking can often become a drag on efficiency. Stay focused!
I would like to share with you some of my rules for work/life managed imbalance:
Resist the ‘tyranny of the shoulds’ and figure out what is important to you in your life.
Stop striving for perfection, especially as a spouse and parent, and instead aim for excellence ~~ your level of excellence. Sometimes striving to be the perfect parent exhausts your kids!
Put yourself first in matters of nutrition, rest, stress management and exercise. Not first at the expense of others, but so you can be of service to others.
Value your time and don’t waste it on activities that take you away from those things that are important in your life.
When you are in a moment, be in the moment.
Negotiate and communicate with the most important stakeholders in your work/life managed imbalance. Can’t negotiate? Then strive for the best managed imbalance possible that meets crucial personal and work needs.
Are changes needed? Consider making smaller changes more frequently than huge leaps. You are more likely to succeed with continuous improvement based on smaller incremental changes leading to huge exponential effect over time. Start with just 10 minutes daily of truly ‘me’ time.
Your strategic ‘Managed Imbalance’ plan should be reviewed and updated regularly. The dynamic between your work life your personal life changes frequently and a single ‘strategy’ doesn’t last forever.
Do you truly know what makes you happy? Is what you’re striving for likely to being you the peace, happiness and contentment you seek?
Want more information? Just Google ‘Work Life Balance’. There are 100 million places for you to go on this popular topic. Or, try some of the simple steps above. Incremental change to exponential outcomes!
Next post, Thing Ten ~~~~~ ‘Negotiation Know How'
This is the ninth in a series of 10 articles on the traits and habits of highly successful sales professionals. Please consider providing some feedback by leaving a comment. If you enjoyed this article and would like to read future articles, please consider following me on LinkedIn.