Do you feel that you lack the time or energy you need to be effective? Are you pulled in too many directions? It may be time to re-think exactly what work-life balance means to you.
Blackberries, text messaging and email – not to mention the complexities of the current business environment – have all added to our workloads, says Joan Gurvis, of the Center for Creative Leadership and co-author of Finding Your Balance. Being connected 24/7 has everyone paying constant attention to work, causing them to sacrifice those “balancing” pursuits.
But work-life balance means allotting sufficient time for career, family, friends, community and leisure. With the pressures of work, the inclination is to continue to try to do things quicker and faster. We think we can keep doing more, but we’re left without adequate time to stop, reflect and focus – one reason that people feel they are out of balance.
A typical symbol of balance – a balancing scale with work on one side and life on the other – is not useful, Gurvis argues. Balance is not a matter of giving equal effort to two opposing sides; it is about aligning your behavior with what you believe is really important to you. When our lives don’t reflect our values, that inconsistency signifies a work-life imbalance.
Finding balance means committing to clear choices that support your core values – and then constantly making adjustments. To the image of the balancing scale, Gurvis prefers the image of the tightrope walker taking one step at a time, intuitively feeling the tension of the rope. Sometimes his balance pole dips one way or the other, but a sudden lean in one direction requires an immediate counterbalance.
Achieving balance in your life happens in much the same way. The act of aligning your values with your life choices is a dynamic process that requires constant calibration. Balance isn’t a one-time decision. It requires focus and hard work, but the payoff for having a full life, both at work and in our personal lives, is worth its weight in gold.