September 26, 2017

Cultivating Work/Life Balance (when it doesn’t seem to exist)

You find yourself in a team or organization with seemingly zero Work/Life Balance.  Here’s how to create it for yourself.

Picture it:  Your co-workers are replying to emails at all hours.  Your manager is in the office before sunrise.  “Lunch” is considered a bad word.  Thursday happy-hour is considered mandatory.

You’re found yourself in a Work/Life Balance-Free zone.  Wow, that’s a mouthful!

Now, don’t panic. 

There’s a way to cultivate Work/Life Balance even if the team or organization doesn’t have the slightest clue what that even means.  Remember, Work/Life Balance isn’t a thing that organizations give to employees (in my opinion) – you have to create it for yourself.

Here’s how I think you create Work/Life Balance when things seem REALLY bleak in your team or broader organization:

  1. Know your Organizational State. Remember to think about HOW your team (or business) is operating. Are you in the “Starter” phase where it’s all-hands-on-deck? Maybe you’re in a “Runner” state where Work/Life Balance is a priority for most team members. Think about this prior to creating your plan – your Organizational State might require a little less than your optimal plan, and that’s ok.
  2. Define what Work/Life Balance means to you. After you get a sense of your Organizational State, create clarity around what Work/Life Balance means for you. You can use my guide from earlier in the month to help, but it’s super important to know what Work/Life Balance means to YOU. Go beyond leaving early, working from home, or happy-hours on Thursdays!
  3. Start small and test. Don’t feel like you have to nail your plan from the very beginning. Remember, this is a profess and it’s super personal to you. Especially if you find yourself in a “Stater” or “Builder” Organizational State, it’s important to not try to blow Work/Life Balance out of the water.  You want to set yourself-up for success, so start small and see how things go month-over-month
  4. Keep track of success (both in and out of the office). Tracking success is crucial. I like to keep a “Work/Life Balance Journal” where I track my progress (and success) daily.  Then, each Friday, I check-in to see how I performed that week.  Seeing progress at the gym? (that’s important to me) – Great! Getting 8 hours of sleep a night? – Awesome!
  5. Modify if needed. Again, know that the plan doesn’t have to be perfect. You might find yourself working on a crazy project where Work/Life Balance goes on the back-burner for a bit (that’s ok). Maybe you’re finding that heading home at 4pm just doesn’t work (so make it 430p).  Be open to making changes as long as you stay focused on your longer-term goals (see #2 above).
  6. Spread the word. Share your successes with others! Hopefully, you and your team will start to notice a difference in how you approach work.  Hopefully, folks will begin to ask you, “What are you doing differently?” Hopefully you’ll start performing better! Make sure people around you know the importance of your Work/Life Balance plan so they can start to cultivate for themselves. Pretty soon, everyone will start feeling more engaged on the job (it’s that the whole point???).

Your homework this week: If you find yourself operating without Work/Life Balance, take the bull-by-the-horns and try to create for yourself. Set yourself up for success by starting with your definition, build a plan, and then start small.  Pretty soon you’ll see “Lunch” as a requirement, not a bad word!

Coming-up next week:  I’m a little behind schedule (whoops!), so I’m going to send out two newsletters next week – (1) My favorite Book, Article, TEDTalk and PodCast (BATP) related to Work/Life Balance and (2) I’ll kick-off October’s theme around “Healthy Mind=Healthy Career” by discussing the importance of intention in your Engaged Pursuit.

Here’s to your Engaged Pursuit!

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