When I was first asked to write about work/life balance, internally I chuckled. My life has at times been so unbalanced that I feel I’m an expert about what NOT to do. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to realise that to live a good life there needs to be moderation in everything. Something I guess I am not good at.
Let me give you some background to help you understand where I am coming from. From 1982 to 1992 I studied for my degrees part-time while working full time and trying to make my way up the corporate ladder. That was a Bachelors Degree in Business with majors in Marketing and Economics and then an MBA.
While working at least 40 hours per week for my employers, I was adding another 40 hours (at least) a week in studies. Work/Life Balance? I had none.
In fact, I was spelling “fun” as “w-o-r-k”!!! If I wasn’t studying, I was working and if I wasn’t working, I was studying. My friends were my fellow students and if we got together for an evening it was either completing assignments or preparing for exams. Definitely not what you’d call a balanced life!
Today, for me, a work/life balance is where there is time and space for earning a living, enjoying the company of family and friends, having regular holidays, time to exercise and time to ruminate. In other words balance occurs where there is equal distribution amongst all the aspects of one’s life.
Our lives are made up of many parts and these include:
➢ Contribution to society
➢ Spiritual Development
Control – or Losing Control?
In the past, I definitely did not treat these areas of my life equally – often because I felt I had no control over my time.
As I was half way through my MBA, I decided that I needed to go out there on my own and start my own business. I needed more control over my life and a better balance, or so I thought.
Well let me tell you, there is nothing like starting your own business while studying!!
Instead of working 80 hours a week, I was now working (and worrying) what felt like 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Even when my studies came to an end and I only had to concentrate on my business, I thought, at last, I’ll now have a chance for a better work/life balance.
Well, up until recently, I can say I have rarely had holidays longer than one week a year – if that for some years. I have attempted to balance all the parts of my life but with little success. Work seems to have always gained the upper hand.
Personality Drivers and Personal Values
Nowadays, I think I know why.
Balance in one’s life is based, I believe, on your personality drivers and personal values. In case you have not guessed yet, I am a type A personality – very achievement oriented, a workaholic. Everything I did in work needed to be as good as possible if not perfect….. exhausting isn’t it!
These drivers and values rarely let me rest – there was always something bigger or better to achieve. As a result there was little moderation in my life – everything was predominantly work/goal oriented. This was after all the only way I believed I could show the world I was worthwhile and of value.
Changing Values – and Thoughts to Achieve a New ‘Balance’.
A couple of years ago I realised I did not want to live my life this way anymore. I no longer wanted to buy into the long hours of the perfect executive. I wanted to get off the work treadmill.
To completely change my pattern of behaviour I recognised the need to fully understand what was driving me to achieve in work only. The first step was identifying where the drivers and values that motivated my current balance came from.
After a great deal of thought with some support from a wonderful coach and a few mentors, some of my drivers I would suggest I was born with, but a lot were and are the result of my family and school upbringing. I am of the opinion that these pre-set values or thinking can be changed over time with focus.
Over the past year, I have slowly changed some of my values and thoughts. Whether that is a result of conscious effort or age or both, I am not sure. I now no longer work on weekends – big step there! I am no longer driven to prove myself as much – I guess because I have already achieved much, to be truthful, and for which I am grateful. I now make the time to read, to get together with family and friends and to even look after myself.
My key thought that changed was that there was no need for balance – it was ALL my life. I did however have a choice whether I want to work hard or whether I want time to play. It is MY values that will drive whether I really achieve balance or not in my life.
Each one of us needs to find our own balance amongst all the different aspects of our lives. But first I believe we need to understand the values and drivers we hold about our self worth and those values we want to hold close. It is your choice how you live your life. The idea of ‘balance’ is such a personal thing – but something that is in OUR control.
If you would like to better understand your drivers, and values – and create your balance in 2019, book in for a complimentary 45 min coaching session. Enquire Now.