Work/Life Balance. What is it? How do we, as entrepreneurs, attain it? Why does it seem to elude the smartest of entrepreneurs? And, is it work/life balance we’re after or the outcome of what we assume balance will provide that we desire? No matter what we’re truly after, what we know to be true is that a balanced life is a productive life.
Webster defines “balance” as a state of equilibrium in weight, force, etc. It is the dynamic tension between wanting and having—between getting and spending—that leaves one feeling satisfied, happy, peaceful, and tranquil.
For true work/life balance, consider these steps:
- Define “balance” for yourself. Dee Hock, Visa International, said, “We tend to fall in love with the things we think are true.” Do you define balance based on what is true for your life or do you strive for balance as defined by society? If you’re using society’s meaning of balance to guide your life, you’ll find it difficult to accomplish. Business Coaching Tip: Discover what definition of balance works for your life based on your values.
- Identify the imbalances in your life. The components of a balanced life are many. These include your business, recreation, community, family, health, physical activity, and spiritual growth. As you think of each area that is important in your definition of balance, what percentage of time do you currently spend in each one of those areas? What percentage would you like it to be? What would you need to change in order to make that happen? Business Coaching Tip: Once you determine what components and percentages fit your characterization of balance, distinguish the areas that throw your life out of balance and eliminate them.
- Establish strong boundaries. Boundaries are imaginary lines we establish around ourselves to protect our souls, hearts, and minds from the unhealthy or damaging behavior of others. Business Coaching Tip: Decide for yourself what others can and cannot do around you that impact your ability to maintain balance. Educate others on how to respect your new boundaries.
- Underpromise. Overpromising creates a great deal of stress. In fact, most people make promises too quickly, then become ensnared by the effort that it takes to keep their word. Business Coaching Tip: Promise half of what you think you can accomplish. You will experience much less pressure to perform, plus the extra time and space that you will have created will allow you to be more resourceful.
- Reduce your roles by 50%. Have you thought about the many roles you play? You may be an employee, employer, spouse, parent, caretaker, volunteer, shopper, organizer, bookkeeper—the list goes on and on. Each requires time and effort. Which roles did you select and agree to? Which ones have unknowingly crept into your life? Business Coaching Tip: Determine which roles are essential to your values and goals and do away with the rest.
- Unhook yourself from the promises of others. Has anyone ever made a promise to someone else that quickly involved you? Did they check with you first or was it something that was assumed by them—and you—that you would automatically agree to? Did it cause you to have more things “to do” as a result of their commitment? Business Coaching Tip: Be aware of who’s commitment is who’s. Allowing others to take responsibility for their commitments helps them grow and assists you in creating balance in your life.
- Establish realistic expectations. High achievers are a unique group of people that expect more of themselves than anyone else would or could. They wear a shiny “S” on their chest (designated for “superperson”) and continue to set expectations far beyond what can realistically be accomplished within the allotted time. The space that exists between the level of expectation and what is possible is a source of continual imbalance and stress. There are no opportunities to celebrate as they continue to raise the bar with higher expectations.Business Coaching Tip: Create reasonable expectations for yourself daily. Your balance will grow in direct proportion to the expectations that you achieve.
Balance: the even tension that holds your life in harmonious proportions of equilibrium. How do you achieve balance in your life?