Step into any bookstore and you come across a dozen or more books on how to effectively manage work/life balance. Almost every title advocates that in order to achieve personal happiness, you must first find the right formula to the work/life conundrum.
I believe the formula isn’t the answer, it’s the perspective. The best and real work/life balance for today’s world is simply incorporating and co-mingling these two aspects of your life on a 24/7 basis! There are no compartments or divisions – it’s around the clock. Just the same way, couples today often say “we are having a child” not just the mother is having a child. Why? Because it’s a unified or blended action.
That’s how work time and personal time have become life without borders. Live your life for today and understand that your personal life and your work life are one and the same.
Family vacation would be far less stressful if the breadwinner(s) didn’t have to sneak a business call and wasn’t made to feel guilty that they were doing business on family time. Think about how much more pleasant such vacation time might be if the guilt that accompanies the work/life struggle was suddenly gone and you were allowed to do both, not choose. This practice shows a respect for personal life and for business life and advocates the success of both.
Talk to some of the most satisfied, happy and successful people and you will find that their business and personal lives haven’t any time barriers. It’s just everyday life! Technology has been the catalyst and game changer for this. We don’t need to be up all night waiting for the mail to come tomorrow, we can get our mail 24/7 and we can make bank deposits at any time over our phones. Yesterday’s traditions or dilemmas have moved on.
To address work/life situations, we might start by setting guidelines instead of timelines. This can be as simple as no cell phones or any other technology during dinner hours, or when we are out together socially. But it doesn’t mean a moratorium on technology altogether.
The ability to hear from a client 24/7 doesn’t subtract from your personal life balance – it actually adds to it. Playing golf or tennis on a week day with two business associates adds to your life balance and usually increases your business opportunities. It’s not a detractor. Belonging to associations and trade groups or business and industry fraternities that have conventions and trips that include family participation is good work/life balance.
Work/life balance is creating “intentional” guidelines that create success and happiness because you don’t feel guilty for taking time from your personal life OR from your business life. We shop online during so called working hours. And we read industry articles or answers business phone calls after work. You can’t set an appointment to have a personal life. You have to integrate work and personal life together and see it as a whole, not parts.
Let’s get over the old 9 to 5 concept and stop seeking the perfect time for work and the perfect time for a personal life or the amount of time in a 24 hour span that should properly be allocated to one or the other. Attending a Baseball game with three clients, is that personal or business? Take along their children and your own kids… now, is that personal or business time?
This past Saturday I was invited to join a golf game by a friend who is a retired electrician. The two other players we partnered with both currently hold top positions in major companies and we all exchanged business cards. Tell me, is this my personal time or should I have said, “Sorry, I can’t talk business because it’s Saturday?”
We need to embrace the concept of a blended life and understand it’s a fluid process. Start by considering how you might do away with some of those lines that create stress between your so called work time and personal time.
I wish you good luck. Let me know how you’re doing once you get to work…or rather, to life?
Merrill Banks, CSP is the founder of LLoyd Staffing and serves as the Chief Executive Officer.