One of the toughest ongoing decisions we make is in work/life balance. The decisions are often small, seemingly incidental, but tend to accumulate with exponential effects. I’ve seen families abandoned and marriages pulled apart by ‘small’ things like the ever-calling blackberry intruding on any private life. Why is it so often people do not recognize that “your urgency” (demanding my attention) does not equate “my urgency” (sorting my priorities)?
Much of our activity around our mobile devices is addictive behaviour. Sometimes commitment and drive can be confused with one’s work being their ‘hobby’. How can you tell? When a person’s work blurs too with what they do for recreation – in their ‘spare time’ – you could have formidable competition for ‘work/life balance’. What is happening is work and life have joined and consume the best of a person’s energies. This is the ‘paid hobbyist’ – also thought of as passionately committed and intensely involved in their work or venture. There is little left over for loved ones when this continues unchecked.
In her article “Work/Life Balance You Can Do It”, Maree Harris Ph.D, addresses practical points around the blurring of personal and business time, and issues of flexibility and control.
“It’s not necessarily about working less than we are at present… It is much more about having flexibility around our work, that ability to balance what’s important in our work against what’s important in our personal lives.
“What appears to cause stress and difficulties for people is where either their work and/or their personal lives demand of them rigid adherence to procedure and routine. They are caught between their two lives, being pulled in two directions, often at once, but having no control over what happens in either….For most people, the most stress-provoking experience they have is when they feel they’ve lost control over their lives.”
Work/Life balance affects us all – employees, entrepreneurs and executives, their partners, family and friends. Clarifying your priorities and asking a trusted friend for an honest personal assessment could be an eye-opener. Don’t wait for the ‘wake-up call’ of relationship dissolution. If you recognize yourself in the Blackberry-addicted ‘paid hobbyist’, get some intervention. Companies are becoming more open to flexible working arrangements if you will show them benefit to the business.
What I am always pushed beach to is, “People DO what they WANT”. We do what we think about most; it is never accidental.