It is a difficult thing to achieve balance in our lives. Balance is different things to different people and for most of us, other people affect those different areas that we are trying to keep in harmony!
At work, our boss, our company plans and our own commitments all conspire to keep us busy and we need to understand where our “tipping point” is. If we want to do a good job, be successful and be fulfilled by our work then it needs to be enough to achieve that end … without adversely affecting the other parts of our life.
At home we may have family commitments, hobbies and activities that we commit to, self improvement projects or health targets all of which require our time and energy.
We may be (hopefully we are) involved in charitable work or other not for profit work that needs our time and skills.
There are always going to be demands on our time and it is up to us to determine where we want to put the emphasis. For some people family and home life is the only priority and work is a necessary evil to pay the bills. For others career is critical and work is a huge priority because of how fulfilling it feels, or because they are driven to reach a goal. For most there is a middle ground where success at work is important, but they also want to spend as much time with family as possible. There will also be certain periods when the balance tips one way or another … but as long as it is temporary that is all good.
None of the above is wrong in any way shape or form … but where the disconnect comes is in expectations. The person who is not willing to put the same amount of effort into the job as the next person may still expect the same kind of rewards. Equally, the person who devotes all their energy to work and career cannot reasonable expect to have the same kind of time at home as the person who makes family and home their top priority.
The ONLY way to achieve YOUR balance is to know yourself … to understand your motivations and adjust your expectations accordingly. Success in anything will always bring some kind of compromise and hitting the right “balance” to suit your needs will lead to a life that is full and rewarding.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. How much difference would it make to your life if you put in a few extra hours at the office each week? .. or a few less hours?
2. Can you find a way to get to 90% of your children’s activities … soccer, hockey, dance etc? Is that enough? Would you settle for less?
3. Would you accept a slower pace of career growth if it meant you could spend more time with your family? … more time doing your hobby? … more time working with non-profit organizations?
4. Is the time you spend with your family maximized now? … how much time is spent comatose in front of a TV? … how much time is spent interacting with your family?
5. Do you dash home from work right at 5pm and do nothing? … or dive into a passion (hobby etc)? … or spend quality time with your family?
6. How many hours of my week are productive … Work? Family? Hobby? Health? Charity? Is the mix right? Am I “wasting” too much time?
7. If I was hit by a bus tomorrow would I have regrets about what I have done with my life? If so, then what would you do differently?
If you ask yourself the hard questions about how you live your life, it can lead to a different perspective and with a little planning could lead to small changes that make big differences and subsequently increased satisfaction.
We are all different and you only get one shot at this, so make the most of it.
“Life is not a dress rehearsal.” … Rose Tremain