Work-life balance. 

It is something that nearly everyone desires, but very few actually claim they have it. To make matters worse, since CoronaVirus has forced many to work from their homes, more and more professionals are talking about the increase in their work hours and reporting a complete lack of balance. If achieving balance is something that so many professionals desire, why has realizing it become so elusive

I believe one of the core reasons why so many do not take the necessary steps to achieve balance is because much like anything in life, you can rarely skip the necessary ingredients and end up with a finished product.

If we are going to live a life that enables us to thrive and one that has a healthy balance, we must take a few steps to get there. 

Get Alignment

I had a conversation this week with a friend who is a financial advisor. He was telling me that he meets with so many who are out of alignment with their life and their work. The reason for this he said was they put their business or career goals first and then make their life fit into their work goals and business. 

He, on the other hand, encourages his clients to determine the life they want first and then create a plan for their career that will help them achieve that.

I agree with his advice. 

When we fail to align our life goals, our ambitions, our values, our dreams within ourselves, and with our life partners, we will most certainly get off track and not only are unbalanced personally but also professionally.

It was not until I did this work towards alignment with Susanne and within my first business that I was able to make the decisions to get me to the life I wanted and have today. 

I started with what I wanted and how that aligned with what Susanne also wanted. First, I wanted to be home more, we wanted to travel together, we wanted to live a healthy lifestyle, we did not want work to consume us and the list went on.  When I then compared our alignment with that of my business partners, it was clear that we were misaligned.  Rather than try and get numerous people and employees to align with what Susanne and I wanted, I decided it was time for me to leave. While many have looked at this as a big and bold decision, the reality is that while it was a bit scary, it was an easy one for me as it brought me into alignment with the life that Susanne and I wanted and staying would have gone against that.  

If we are going to achieve balance the first step is alignment, not only with our life partners, but also with those in our professional lives i.e. business partners, co-workers, managers, etc. Take the time to explore what you want, what they want, what an ideal life and career looks like, and then make some agreements. 

Finding Agreement – Defining Boundaries 

Once we have aligned with our partners and those within our professions, we can begin to establish agreements and define our boundaries. These agreements define what we are willing and not willing to do.

For instance, one of the things that Susanne and I have aligned on is the desire to spend time together. In order to keep that alignment, we have certain agreements we have made around how many hours per day we will work, when we will talk about work, when we will make time for just us, etc.

I have also made agreements with my clients in terms of my availability; what I am able and willing to do, and what things I will not do.

Having these agreements in place are a way to ensure that you are continually aligned. These agreements will also change as your life does. I am sure that when our children were little our agreements would have differed than they do now with all adult children. The only way to know is to communicate with your partner.

Finding Balance

If you do not know what you value and what you want life to be (alignment) and then define what you are willing to do and not do to get there (agreement) you will not be able to achieve balance. 

When it comes to understanding values, so many get stuck. I like this description of values given by the Co-Active Training Institute

“Values are who we are. Not who we would like to be, not who we think we should be, but who we are in our lives, right now. Another way to put it is that values represent our unique and individual essence, our ultimate and most fulfilling form of expressing and relating. Our values serve as a compass pointing out what it means to be true to oneself. When we honor our values on a regular and consistent basis, life is good and fulfilling.”

Ensuring that you have alignment on goals and values in your work and personal life is the place to begin, once you have defined that, making your agreements and establishing your boundaries will come much easier.

If you are like the more than 70 percent of professionals who say they do not have work-life balance, stop striving for balance, and look first to align, gain agreement on your boundaries and in that space, you will find balance