You’re a busy professional with a jam-packed schedule and a growing list of responsibilities. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of your professional life and lose sight of your personal one. But here’s the thing: staying connected with your personal life isn’t just good for you; it’s essential for authentic leadership. When you’re in tune with yourself, you’re better equipped to connect with your team and move your team and organization forward.
What exactly is work-life balance, really?
Work-life balance is often talked about as this elusive ideal where you’re supposed to equally juggle your professional responsibilities and personal life. But let’s get real for a moment: the term itself can be a bit misleading. Why? Because the idea of “balance” suggests that life can be neatly divided into equal parts, and that’s just not how it works.
There is NO work-life balance.
Forget the outdated notion of work-life balance as a 50-50 split between your job and personal life. The real deal is about aligning your time and energy with what genuinely matters to you. It’s a blending of personal and professional, constantly adjusted based on your current priorities, whether that’s a crucial work project or quality time with loved ones.
So, instead of striving for a perfect balance, aim for a fulfilling blend of work and life that makes you feel whole. This approach not only makes you a more effective leader but also enriches your personal life, creating a positive cycle that benefits you and everyone around you.
But there is a way forward, and here are the steps to do it.
Step 1: Take Stock of What’s Really Important to You Right Now. One of the problems I have with the theory of work-life balance is that it is a linguistic generalization. What does that mean? It means that we equally weigh the importance of work with every other area of our life, and that isn’t so. There are areas of your life that are more important than other areas of life right now at this moment because of circumstances you are experiencing.
The metaphor I use is cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family and having all six burners of my Wolf dual fuel range going at the same time. Not everything is on a high burner, and not everything is on a front burner. Some things have to go to the back burner, where you turn down the flame and keep an eye on it. That’s what happens to you in your life. It’s not focusing on everything. It’s focusing on the things that truly matter in that moment.
Here’s an easy exercise that you can do to give you Clarity on what is most important to you right now.
First, consider the six generally accepted areas of life: Career, Family, Relationships, Personal Development, Spirituality, and Health & fitness. Put them in order of importance. Number one is the most important, down to number six, which is the least important – understanding that they call all be important to you. This forces you to get Clarity on what is most important to you.
Next, take the same six areas of life and put them in order of how you spend your time.
Step 2: Identify the Gaps. Look at the disparities between your two lists. These gaps are your wake-up call. Where are the gaps that bother you? They show you where your time and energy are misaligned with what truly matters to you.
Step 3: Make Conscious Choices. Start reallocating your time and energy to close those gaps, but focus on no more than three areas of life; otherwise, you just get stressed again. This isn’t about “balancing” your life; it’s about making conscious choices that align with your current priorities.
Step 4: Communicate Your Priorities Share your newfound Clarity with your team and family. When they understand where you’re coming from, building genuine connections and fostering a supportive environment is easier.
Step 5: Revisit and Revise life is dynamic. Make it a habit to revisit your Areas of Life exercise and adjust your priorities as needed. What schedule works for you? Quarterly? Twice a Year? Yearly? Schedule it.
You get to choose what’s most important to you, so start here.
Your first step is to complete the Areas of Life exercise. It’s a simple yet powerful tool that can bring immense Clarity to your life and leadership. Once you’ve identified your gaps, you’re well on your way to becoming a more authentic and effective leader.
For more insights and strategies on Clarity-Driven Leadership, visit www.DebbiePetersonSpeaks.com