So let’s talk about over-used terms for a minute.
If you’ve been in the business world since the mid 1990s you’ve likely heard your management espouse the desire for employees to achieve greater work/life balance. Many U.S. companies have adopted programs to help employees strike a better life balance by providing health club benefits, entertainment discount programs, and additional time off for events such as the birth of a child. Despite all this, Americans are of the most overworked and flat-out busy people on earth, recently surpassing the Japanese and long surpassing the Europeans. With all this discussion of work/life balance, how can we in the U.S. also be of the most overworked people in the world? The answer is pretty simple; many of us talk work/life balance, but don’t live work/life balance primarily because we don’t know how to do it.
First let’s get clear on the primary purpose of achieving work/life balance. It’s about minimizing stress in your life. Much of the stress in a typical person’s life is derived from work. You can say you’ve got work/life
balance, but in addition to working full-time, you might participate in many activities with the kids, volunteer at the local homeless shelter, and exercise five days a week. If you’re feeling stressed and tired you haven’t achieved the primary intent of work/life balance, which is to reduce stress. All you have done is balanced the degree of stress you have in your work life with the stress you have in your non-work life. But at least the stress is balanced :-).
Before we get too deep in this seminar, I want to get a couple of points on the table:
Work/life balance doesn’t mean you never have to burn the midnight oil to get a project done. There will be times you will need to work hard to meet a deadline. What work/life balance does mean, though, is that burning the midnight oil will only be an exception, not a regular event.
Achieving work/life balance doesn’t give you a get-out-of-jail-free card to not work hard or only work a few hours a week. We were meant to work and to provide for ourselves. It just means that work is done in moderation and not to an extreme.
Realizing the quest for work/life balance means doing some serious soul searching. The first focus topic in this action guide is designed to get you thinking about what is truly important to you. If you acknowledge you are a workaholic and don’t want to change, then this action guide will probably be meaningless to you. If you do want to change, though, you’ll get a few helpful nuggets from what you’re about to read.
This seminar is very personal to me as I am a recovering workaholic. I have learned many lessons the hard way in realizing my own personal quest for work/life balance and hope that you might find a few pearls which help you better achieve the low-stress balance you desire.