Monday, October 22, 2007

Life in Balance

It's just a change in a few little words, but I like "life in balance" better than "work-life balance," a commonly used phrase in the business world. It all hit me during my vacation last week at a spa that employs the former as a tagline.

To me it is not just about "work" and "life," as if the two were separate and one needs to devote more time to one than the other. It's about one's "life," and the role work plays in it, and that could be anything from a very big role to playing a minor one.

Now what about the "balance" part of it? Even for those who choose to have a heavy work schedule, "life in balance" suggests that you examine every aspect of living that is available to you and determine if you are spending adequate time in that particular endeavor insofar as the demands you are faced with today permit. For example, look at the following areas: as a parent, sibling or friend; doing exercise, charity work, or taking courses and engaging in sports; spending time reading, thinking, building new relationships or deepening older ones; planning for the future or what your next career move will be; focusing on your diet or researching a new idea. The list goes on. But the point is not to be single focused. Both you and your employer will be the beneficiary of your broader focus and experience. If your career is dominant, make sure you are passionate about what you are doing. If your career is not dominant, you can select what will be or you can spread your time evenly among many things. You need to create a balance that works for you today. Obviously, you will need to reexamine that at another time in your life cycle.

"Life in Balance" to me means spending most of my time on what I am passionate about -- my work -- and achieving the goals I have set forth. My work has been an adventure, opening up so many new intellectual, informational, social, charitable, diplomatic, business and travel opportunities that in some ways it has even combined many of my extracurricular interests. "Life in Balance" to me also means taking one day at total leisure within every seven day period, having an occasional week night evening out and taking work-free vacations where I can focus 100 percent on total relaxation and having fun.
Further, I am always game to explore a new idea or new activity.
Nevertheless, nothing is perfect, and occasionally I cannot always meet these ideals.

I do believe that an employer can help people in the company put their lives in balance through good advice as well as programs that promote flexibility, education, health, recreation, etc.

But, at bottom, I believe it is up to the individual to survey his or her own life and figure out what "balance" means -- and based on the time you put in on priority activities, that you get the rewards you are seeking.

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