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Work-Life Balance: New Balance For A New Year
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Work-Life Balance: New Balance For A New Year - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: New Balance For A New Year

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: New Balance For A New Year

In an increasingly cynical world, it's become unfashionable to make New Year's resolutions. Human nature being what it is, and our own histories being what they are, it's easy to dismiss the notion as futile, or to put a smart-alecky spin on it and resolve not to set unrealistic personal goals.

The problem with this approach is that we set resolutions all the time, if we've got our heads in the game, for self-reflection and goal-setting are among the cornerstones of personal success. Even repeated failure, we tell ourselves, chips away at the things that don't work until we're left with what does work.

Work-life balance, as we've noted in past articles, is always a popular topic, always something people strive to improve, but in the weeks leading up to the new year, the world seems to explode with new thoughts on the subject, many of them a reframing of older thoughts on the same subject. And you know what? That's okay. Reframing our images of our better selves is an adaptive strategy; where one approach might have fallen short last year, a new approach toward the same destination might get us a little closer this year. Giving up on the destination, an expression of cynicism at its height, is the surest way never to get better, and we're already better than that, or we wouldn't be reading this article.

So if it's the New Year's Resolutions label that's the issue, a reminder of past failures and starry-eyed enthusiasm, then call it something else. Call it a quarterly projection, a vision, a to-do list, or your own personal, minimum qualifications for the job of being who you want to be. Identify one or two specific, measurable goals for increased balance in your life, and set into motion those tasks that will get you closer. And be encouraged by the throngs of others seeking the same sorts of goals this year. Work-life balance may be elusive, but if it were easy, we'd all be there already and there would be no need for all the advice that saturates our newsfeeds every late December and early January.

In an effort to nudge you toward better balance, here are a few pieces of advice on balancing work and life, published in just the past few weeks.

Put it All on One Calendar
Cali Williams Yost, writing for Time Magazine, advises putting our life stuff and our work stuff on the same calendar, so rather than the two sides of our lives competing against each other, they work toward serving your day according to your priorities. You may recall this is the same advice another writer shared when we addressed this topic about a year ago. Putting everything on one calendar shifts you from "reactive overwhelm" to "deliberate intention," a common approach among people Yost refers to as "naturals" at "work+life fit."

Identify Your Top Five Priorities; Schedule Only What Serves Them
Martha Ross takes an essentialist position, saying "busy is never better" in the San Jose Mercury News. If your calendar is being filled by tasks that don't serve your top five priorities, give them up to someome for whom they do. Focus on those things that advance those priorities, and say a firm no to everything else. Besides keeping you focused on the important things, this also keeps you from being resentful or bitter about other things getting in the way.

Get Over the Whole Work-Life View
Blake Commagere writes in Techcrunch that for many of us, work is our life. We don't want balance at all, and wish there were some way we could do our jobs 24/7. Even if your own ambitions don't line up quite that way, his advice is to consider everything part of the whole, so that getting enough sleep and exercise is part of your work, something that makes you better at your job, if that will help you see it better. Those of us hugely focused on our work can treat exercise and sleep as important parts of the to-do list that make the other tasks on our to-do lists possible. Or, from the other view, those things we do at work enable us to play more when we do them efficiently.

Make Balance a Priority for Yourself -- And Your Employees
Kim Peters, writing for Wired, reminds us that there is evidence for happier employees being more efficient workers. Construction projects, for example, suffer from increasing inefficiency as workers approach sixty-hour work weeks. Happy employees mean less turnover, which increases the competition for positions in your company. And the best employers are the ones who make work-life balance happen, something that can't always be left to workers who feel they have to prove something to their management.

Don't Give Up On Yourself
One thing you don't want to become is one of those people who always reads about work-life balance but does little to achieve it, like those people who love watching exercise programs on television but never try them. If advice articles such as these listed here inspire you to try new things or to keep evaluating your process toward true balance, by all means, keep looking at them. On the other hand, with so much hopeful, positive advice out there, it can be easy to let the good feeling be enough, when it does nothing for your actual work-life balance. Don't fall into that trap. Take the advice that looks most likely to work for you and give it a try. And if you find yourself completely off-track by mid-February, take another look and set another resoultion; whatever it takes to keep you moving toward the goal.


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Work-Life Balance: New Balance For A New Year - Executive Leadership Articles

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