By Mark Rounds, VP of Corporate Development
The other day I was at breakfast with a friend who told me it was impossible for him to balance work and life. Work was demanding and occupying the majority of his time. He felt he did not have enough time for his family. I listened, and I acknowledged his pain. So, how do we find balance?
This is obviously a common theme among Americans today as indicated by the many common adages that are part of our everyday conversations such as: “No one on their deathbed has ever said that they wish they spent more time in the office,” “You can’t take it with you,” “There is only so much time in the day,” and last but not least, “Time is like money, you spend it on what is most important to you.”
Let’s face it, none of these platitudes motivate us towards balance. If anything, they drive home guilt. The truth is, most people work because they have to.
When I think of balance, I think of a scale, like the one you see at the courthouse (the blind scale of justice). To be balanced, both sides of the scale need to have the same weight. Bringing this analogy to work-life balance makes us believe that we need to spend the same amount of time on each. But is this right? In today’s high-tech world, laptops, tablets and smartphones make us always accessible. Is balance even possible?
I remember when I started in the business world, if I wanted to take work home, I had to put the documents in my briefcase. It was easy to avoid work when on vacation, I just didn’t take anything with me and I never bothered to find a phone to call into the office. But today, documents are on the cloud, and anyone can find me on my smartphone. It takes a concerted effort not to be connected to work.
So, how do we balance work and life? I believe the key is to look at this from a different perspective. Think of it as harmony. Balance implies equal distribution where harmony suggests a pleasing arrangement of parts. If we apply harmony to our lives, we can arrange our life to bring all parts together for our benefit. The Byrds put it best when they wrote their famous song Turn, Turn, Turn and said “To everything … there is a season … and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Instead of striving to achieve balance, try to creatively arrange your life in a way that makes sense for you and your loved ones. Consider where your life is at now and where you want it to go.
So my friends, let’s set priorities to match the seasons in our life. There are things we “have to do” and there are things we “want to do” but the seasons dictate what we are “able to do.” Seek harmony in what we can do and leave the balance to the legal system.