Prompted by several conversations I have had lately with clients in high level positions, I've been thinking about what "balance" really means.
Work/life balance is a phrase that is much used these days and the first thought is generally that "work" occupies one space, "life" another, and somehow those two things need to be balanced properly.
Many of my clients feel truly challenged because they have not achieved the appropriate ratio and don't feel that it is possible, part of their culture or career. "This is the means to an end"... is a phrase that I have heard often around this subject, meaning, if I have big dreams and big goals, this career, no matter how much I sacrifice on the way there, will get me to my end point.
I cringe when I hear that. It sounds sad because don't hear passion and engagement.
Balance used to mean to me that work hours are reasonable so that there is still time left for family and play. Time to get reenergized and get reinspired. Separating work and personal relationships. But what if your work does both?
Reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, helped me reframe the idea of balance and the role of relationships in balance. Ferrazzi makes a very strong point that building strong relationships is the cure to feeling imbalanced. The whole idea is this: love what you do, make sure you are 100% engaged in your work, build strong relationships so that all your actions and interactions matter, and being in or out of balance will not be a subject. As long as you feel good, it doesn't matter how many hours you spend "at work", because it won't be draining and taxing because you are happy, engaged and with your family. Ok, maybe your home family and work family will have to intersect somehow, but catch my drift?
Instead of worrying about balance, make sure that what you do is what matters to you and that you do it with people who matter.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.―Confucius