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Work-Life Balance: Setting Different Goals
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Work-Life Balance: Setting Different Goals - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Setting Different Goals

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Setting Different Goals

In case it isn’t obvious, everyone is still talking, writing, and reading about work-life balance because it’s pretty elusive, if not (as some pundits say) impossible. Yet there is a reason also for its one of the rating criteria on job-hunting websites such as Glassdoor, and it is the same reason the topic has its own category in magazines such as Forbes. We’re all searching for some quality of life most of us haven’t been able to attain. In survey after survey of young professionals, work-life balance continues to be in the top four considerations for accepting or rejecting job offers. Clearly, it’s remains a high-priority topic for most of us.

A recent commentary in the Observer—an online publication that was once the New York Observer in print—suggests that the reason we’re continually disappointed by our balance-seeking efforts is that true work-life balance is impossible, and we should therefore strive for more reasonable, achievable goals.

First, the writer suggest we accept the see-saw, advice given by others we’ve cited over these past few years of exploring the topic. This is definitely one approach to consider, as long as the see-saw ride is something we can pay close attention to so that it doesn’t get out of hand. The rest of the advice is vague and well-covered territory: set priorities for the important things, and stop taking time “off,” instead thinking about our family and leisure time as time “on.”

It’s largely useless advice if you look at it in the specifics, but there is underlying value in where the writer is coming from: there can be some peace in acknowledging how elusive work-life balance can be, and it’s a complicated, multi-faceted vision that requires a practical approach (such as prioritizing) and an internal adjustment, such as altering our mindsets to be fully present in any of our moments (as we do when we take time “on”).

The approach echoes good advice about New Year’s resolutions, which we continue to be big fans of. Setting a grand, unclear resolution to lose weight, for example, is largely useless unless attainable, measurable, specific goals are part of the resolution. Even a seemingly quantified resolution like “lose fifteen pounds before cousin Megan’s wedding” is useless because it doesn’t address quantifiable behaviors.

This is not to suggest that setting such goals is the key to finding work-life balance. Rather, it may be the practical change and mindset-shift whose result is better work-life balance, or at least a better feeling about the see-saw. For instance, a practical goal like being home from work by 6:00 each evening combined with the internal commitment to doing work only when at the office, without even thinking about balance can yield desired results. Perhaps the goal is to do it for five straight work days, followed by one very long day at the office and one day completely away from the office, as kind of professional and personal rewards for a week of consistency.

This may not work for everyone, but it should already be clear that nothing will work for everyone. The point is to find those couple of doable, measurable behaviors whose by-product is a more balanced feeling. Although the specific advice by the Observer’s contributor is pretty unhelpful, it does peel back some of the confusions getting in the way of many of our visions for better life at work and everywhere else.


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Work-Life Balance: Setting Different Goals - Executive Leadership Articles

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