We all want it, but what exactly is it? And once we know that, how do we get it, and importantly, keep it?
What is work life balance?
It’s what you want it to be. Some people define themselves strongly with their work, other less so.
It’s personal, and a matter of agreement between you and yours. We have talked a lot about your personal and your business goals before. It’s essential to define these and make sure they are congruent – an element of balance in themselves.
What is important to you?
The words work life balance need exploring. It assumes work is more important than life, whereas work is a part of life, even if a big one. Life work balance is a more useful term. We know that no-one has ever gone to work to fulfil some corporate goal. They go to fulfil personal goals through the corporate vehicle.
It’s the same if you run your own business. You need to keep personal goals in sight, which is increasingly difficult as the business grows or changes. It often takes over all our waking time at the expense of the reason you started in the first place. Keeping that original focus is vital to ensure that work is fulfilling.
What is balance?
Then there is the idea of balance, which is usually thought of rather like balance scales. As a thought picture its damaging. Any change in balance in one of the scales leads to a change in the other, to its detriment. So, you may feel that you cannot change much for fear of putting everything else out of balance. Or you may feel that it’s difficult to get back in balance after a change in one area or another.
In this picture, balance is a static characteristic, but we know that in business and in life, things change all the time. Balance has to be dynamic to allow for life events. There has to be movement – and this needs to be incorporated into goals, both personal and business, to enable them to be achieved.
We prefer the story of the tightrope walker. When he was asked how he managed to keep his balance, high up on the tightrope, without a safety net, he smiled and said “I am always losing my balance. I control it within the bounds I set myself. I couldn’t walk the rope unless I lost my balance all the time, first one side and then to the other. Balance is not something you inherently have, it is the state of controlled movement to and fro.
How to get WLB
Define your goals – your personal ones. That doesn’t mean how much money, how big a house…it means working out why you want these things. The money etc is the means to get them – not goals in themselves. This needs quite lot of probing so that you end using words and phrases that have real meaning and that you can refer to. Only then do you start to think about business goals, and again, it needs some work to find the true meanings. Reconciling the two sets of goals isn’t always difficult as its more about the realisation of which comes first that is most important. We do this with clients at the beginning of all strategy sessions.
We can reflect again on our tightrope walker, when he talks about preparation. “First”, he said, “I see each walk as the most important one of my life, the last one I will do; I want it to be the best. I plan each walk very carefully. Many things in my life I do out of habit, but this is not one of them. I’m careful what I wear, what I eat, how I look. And I mentally rehearse each walk as a success before I do it — what I will see, what I will hear, how I will feel. This way I get no unpleasant surprises. I do all my thinking beforehand, down on the ground. When I’m up on the air I clear my mind and put all my attention into the performance.”
The two things we help our clients with are thinking deeply first and then understanding what and how the thinking affects their outcomes. Then they can act like the tightrope walker.
How to keep WLB
This is easier – regularly revisit your goals, both personal and business. Over time they will change, either to reflect changes in your life, or because circumstances in business change.
Try this exercise:
Write down what is important to you about being in business, and why. Don’t focus on the money, focus on what money allows you to do and be. Think about all your life.
Now write down what makes you feel successful as a person, the whole you, not only the business you.
Make sure the words you used are full of meaning for you.
Where are the gaps? What will you do about them?
Then, feel free to call for chat about where you want to go and how you might get there. Don’t take our word for it, our clients will tell you. And there are free Energiser sessions available to explore this more. Just contact us on 01202 520010 or email.