Last week I watched a fantastic video on TED. Nigel Marsh, who has written extensively over the past seven years about work-life balance shares four observations from his work and experience:
1. Certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged in a day to day basis with a young family – he talks about how there are so many people out there who are working long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.
Is this you? Are you currently in a job that just simply isn’t compatible with having balance in your personal life? If you are, chances are that you have tried time and time again to create more time with your family only to fall short. Take an honest look at your job – is it really possible to have balance with it and your life?
2. Governments and corporations aren’t going to solve this issue for us – Nigel says, “if you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you and you may just not like their idea of balance.”
Who is designing your life, you, or the people around you? You have the ability to design your life the way you want it. It will likely mean making difficult choices but at the end of the day if you get to live the life that you want isn’t that worth it?
3. We need to be realistic about the time frame we use when judging the balance in our life, we can’t do it all in one day – it is about finding a realistic time frame without putting your life on hold.
What time frame would be realistic for you? For me, I look at balance on a weekly time frame. During that week did I connect with friends, was I physically active, did I take time for personal reflection and growth? For me a week is long enough to judge the overall balance in my life. Some days are completely out of balance but when I look at the week as a whole that is how I judge my level of balance.
4. We need to approach balance in a balanced way. The small things matter, balance doesn’t have to be a drastic upheaval of your life.
I think that this is a point that is so easy to miss. We live in a society where everything has to be big, be dramatic. Because if it’s not big and dramatic how could it possibly have a major impact on my life? The jokes on us folks, it’s the small things that truly make the largest difference.
Take a moment to think about Nigel’s closing statement – we need to change society’s definition of success from the idea that a person who dies with the most money wins to a more balanced definition of what a life well lived looks like.
My challenge to you – find a quiet place, grab a pen and piece of paper and write down what your life, well lived, looks like. Then do one small thing this week that will move you closer to that vision of success.
To watch the full 10 minute video click here.