Work/Life Balance – what does that mean anyway?

I hear this so often from the executives that I coach, and the myriad of articles written on the subject. So, what does this mean and why do we talk about it so much?

First of all, “work-life” somehow implies that work is not a part of life and we know that is not true. In fact, many people receive great fulfillment from their vocations. For most of us, our work is an important facet of our multi-faceted lives. For others, due to poor leadership, toxic work environments, or our own bad choices or bad attitude our work is something to simply to be endured until we “get off” and are able to do the things that we really enjoy.

For many executives, there seems to be an “up or out” mentality at their workplaces – there is pressure to climb the corporate ladder and it seems, for many organizations, that the only way to climb is to work even more hours and produce even more. It is the proverbial hamster wheel. These kinds of situations help to produce this feeling of imbalance.

We all know deep down, that there is not some sort of “balance” to our lives. However, there is living life in such a way that focuses on our true priorities and what we discern to be the actual purpose of our lives on this earth.

One thing that I do in talking with my clients, is to begin by asking them to write their own eulogy. What is it that at the end of their life on this earth do they want the people who matter most to be saying about them? What kind of person do they aspire to be?

I am of the opinion, that deep down, we have a sense of what these priorities are and the angst that many call “work-life balance” is really a recognition that we are ignoring what are the true priorities of our lives. Often those priorities are in the form of our spouses and children, our friends, our community, and our true purpose in life. We are not at peace as we are not living rightly, and it is often by our own choices.

To live with a certain level of peace about our lives, we need to be living according to our priorities. We also need to realize that at times certain of those priorities may need more time and attention for a season than the others and that is ok.

Determine what your priorities should be and then live your life according to your those priorities and I think that some of this angst about “work-life balance” will slowly start going away.