If you have achieved any level of success in life, and/ or if you love your work/ business, chances are that you have grappled with the challenge of “work-life balance” at some point on your journey. There’s also a good chance that your family members, friends and colleagues are constantly talking about how hard it is to juggle and keep life in balance.
Well, here’s the shocker. What if this statement – “you should maintain balance in your life” – is a myth to begin with? What if it’s not a yardstick for success, but an obstacle to success?
Just think about this…
If you had a list of the most important people and goals that you’d care about at your deathbed, who / what would they be? How long is that list? Does it run into pages, or are there just a handful of people/ items you’d care about?
So here’s the next question – if focusing on those few things that matter means letting go of things that don’t matter as much, is it all that bad? So long as you live life fully with no regrets, do you really care how balanced that life was?
Next, think about all the famous people that you respect the most. Did they live a balanced life, or did they dedicate their lives fully to what they believed in – and made a huge impact as a result?
“The reason we shouldn’t pursue balance is that the magic never happens in the middle; magic happens at the extremes.” – Gary Keller
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” – Alain De Botton
“There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” – Jack Welch
Have we gotten your attention yet? Great!
Well, if work-life balance isn’t the answer, what is? Let’s get to that right now:
Counter-balancing instead of balancing
Work-life balance is one of the 6 “lies of success” that Gary Keller discusses in his book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
Keller points out that when we give time and focus to what matters, it takes time away from lesser priorities, and we automatically go out of balance. Extra-ordinary results only come with extra-ordinary commitments – trying to take a middle position only brings mediocre results on all fronts.
The solution is to live a balanced life, but to apply counterbalance, so you never go so far that you cannot find your way back. How does that work?
1. Identify your Big Why, and the biggest ONE Thing you must do. Give it 100% until you conquer it.
2. This means that you will get out of balance, but you can use counterbalancing (infrequently) to address other priorities. Specifically, you can (and should) use different counter-balancing approaches for work vs personal life:
• Success at work is about mastery, and this takes a long-term commitment. Identify the ONE Thing that must be mastered, and make it ok to prioritize that one thing above all other work priorities, for an extended period of time.
• Our personal life requires a different approach. For us to feel that we “have a life”, there are multiple areas that require a minimum level of attention from us, yet we can’t prioritize everything. Develop self-awareness so you are aware of the amount of time and energy that you are investing into your friends, family, hobbies, spiritual growth and anything else that makes you feel whole and complete. Make sure you don’t neglect any one area too long (be it a week, month or year) without counterbalancing.
The Integrated Life
Jerry Foster, in Small Changes, Big Results, takes it a step further by looking for ways to integrate different aspects of your life, so they complement and add on to one another rather than compete for your time and attention.
Obviously, this starts with obtaining clarity and knowing where you want to go, so you can direct all your effort and resources accordingly. Besides using the Focusing Question, read more about how to identify your area of focus in life and business here!
Want to read the entire book? Get a copy of The ONE Thing from Amazon.com now.