Work-Life Balance Is A Fantasy

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Find your ‘work-life balance’”.  We’ve heard it all our lives.  And everyone has suggestions on how to accomplish this balance.  The focus has always been on finding a way to be successful at work while still finding the time to live your life outside of work.

It’s time to be enlightened, folks.  There is no such thing as a work-life balance.  It doesn’t exist.  And as you read further, I hope you understand why I make such a bold statement that may have never been made before.

I heard a character in a movie ask another character “Where do you live?”  The second character replied “Everywhere!”  This comical retort got me thinking this statement was more true than funny.  Many of us, if asked this question, would give a street name, a city, a country, because we would be thinking about where we spend our lives in a house.  But I challenge each of you today to think differently.

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The reason I say work-life balance is a fantasy, is that the two are not mutually exclusive.  I read a very interesting story once called “The Dash”.  And it spoke of how that, at the end of our lives, there is a date of birth and a date of death with a “ – “ (dash) in the middle.  What you do with your ‘dash’ is what makes the difference.  That simple dash is your life and everything you do during that dash defines ‘life’.

If you are at work, you are still living your life.  If you are at home, you are living your life.  If you are out with friends or family, you are living your life.  Everywhere you turn, you are living your life.  Therefore, instead of focusing on a ‘work-life balance’, focus on a “Life Balance” where you focus on every aspect of your life no matter where you are.  Give 110% in each and every one of those aspects.  Your family and friends should remember you as someone who is dedicated, thoughtful, kind, and loving.  Those who work with you should remember you as someone who is dedicated, goal-oriented, a team player, resilient, focused, hard-working, tenacious, and unwilling to give up.

If you focus on being the best everywhere you go, paying attention to the urgent and important needs, showing kindness to others, prioritizing each and every aspect of your life, you will find that you no longer have to worry about ‘balancing work and life’, because your life will be all that you have, and work, friends, family, and all others will be things that together MAKE your LIFE.

One of my favorite writers, Zig Ziglar stated once that “No one ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I had worked more’”.  The focus of your life should never be whether you should work more or less.  It should be whether you are giving quality and priority to the things in your LIFE that matter the most, in the right order.

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When this life is over, all that will be left is the memory of you.

The question you have to ask yourself today is how do you want to be remembered.  And what things can you do today to ensure you meet those goals in your LIFE?

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Just Start It!!

In 1988, Nike launched an ad campaign which would become a common phrase used by the world for many years, even still today.  The slogan was “Just Do It!“.  Likely one of the most famous slogans by any company, everyone in the world would think of them when this statement was made.

Today, I want to discuss a similar but different term….”Just Start It!“.

I realized this while listening to someone at work talk about how we need to get a strategy in place, to build out our plan, and what steps we would take to get from point A to point B and to the final outcome.  And someone made the statement, “Just get started – we’re wasting time”.

Then it hit me.  It’s been said many times that Good is the Enemy of Great.  We put off things today because we feel we don’t have the time to do it perfect.  We delay for days, weeks, months, maybe even years,  beginning something that we could simply just start now.

From a personal standpoint, I’m guilty as well.  I have known for years that I wanted to begin writing, coaching, mentoring, and teaching others about leadership, management, setting personal goals, and personal & career growth.  But I kept taking notes, writing in a journal all the things I could eventually someday put into a book.  Everyone that knows me knew that I continuously stated “I will write a book someday”.  However, nothing was ever produced other than incomplete goals and dreams.  But I have now been interviewed and published in a magazine, I am going to be a speaker at a Testing Conference in October, and I have started a blog, right here on WordPress, which I hope will continue to move me to the goals I have set for myself.

What I have found from a personal standpoint, is that it’s so easy to procrastinate.  I read a quote somewhere once that said “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you are NOT working on what you supposed to be doing”.  This is so true.  Many of us will complete dozens of things unrelated to the truly important work that needs to be in progress.  Stephen Covey notes in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that you have to focus on working on what is IMPORTANT and less on what is URGENT.  Obviously, we have to get the URGENT + IMPORTANT work out of the way, but many times we focus on the things that are either URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT or NOT URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT and we fail to ever move to the true goals and aspirations for our lives.

My challenge to you, reader, is to get started TODAY.  Most everyone has something they have wanted to accomplish.  Something they feel is important for their lives, their career, their future.  But it sits on the shelf and we think about it often but never take action.  Stop waiting for that perfect opportunity to align, and get started on the little things that can move you step by step toward your ultimate goal.  It’s been said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.  Begin taking those steps.

With that said, I’m a realist and I’m also a logical thinker.  “Just Start It” doesn’t apply to every single thing in the world.  For instance, if your goal is to be an airplane pilot, you obviously would not just jump on a plane, take the cockpit, and start flying.  It would be disastrous.  It would require you to take the training, learn the process, and then begin flying a plane.  But even in this example, the first steps – taking the courses, getting instruction, learning the controls, educating yourself on aeronautics, is a simple way you can “Just Start It”.

I have applied this theory in my work.  I have, more often than not, put off things which I felt I needed more time to perfect and prepare, and I have found myself cramming to get everything done with much less time.  WIth this new theory, I see such progress in the way I deliver, and the way I start with simple steps, modify, update, perfect, and reapply, and it is amazing how much more productive I have found myself now.

So get out there – take your first steps – people will notice.  It’s better to show that you have work in progress and that you have something to show things are moving, than it is to say “I’m working on the plan”, or “I have it all in my head – just need to put it on paper”, or “I need to meet with the team and come up with our approach”, or “I’m waiting on person-X to get back to me before I start”.

Just Start It!  The worst that could happen is that you have to stop and restart it.  But I challenge you to try this theory and see how it works for you!