I was at a business meeting recently with a group of highly successful managers. When I say ‘highly successful’ I mean they were considered so by the organisations they worked for.
But when I looked around I saw a bunch of stressed-out, sickly, over- or underweight wrecks! These high flyers were all headed for the scrap heap or the grave in the not too distant future.
At this point I realised that the ‘Work/Life Balance’ cliche, while not providing all the answers, certainly has something in it worth exploring. The main problem I have with the ‘WLB’ model is that it implies working is not living! I prefer to think of a ‘Balanced Life’.
This is not a new notion, of course. I expect you have seen variations on the ‘Wheel of Life’ concept. If you have not come across this, it is easy to explain:
Draw a big circle and divide it into segments representing aspects of your life. For example, I might use FAMILY, HEALTH, CAREER, LEISURE, FINANCES, PERSONAL PERFORMANCE and SELF DEVELOPMENT. This gives me seven segments.
Now imagine your segments are scored from 0 – 10 from the centre out to the perimeter of your circle. Score each aspect of your life and place a dot in the appropriate segment. Join the dots with a wavy line and you have a picture of your life and how well each aspect is working. Where the line nears the perimeter, you are doing well; where it approaches the centre, you need to look at ways to improve.
Each aspect of your life consists of qualitative and quantitive elements. Or VALUES and ACHIEVEMENTS. It is these elements that need to be balanced if you are to fulfil your potential as a human being.
The difficulty faced by the managers I began this piece talking about, and indeed most of us I suspect, is the pressure involved in building a career. These people could not find the time or the energy to take care of the family segment. Leisure was practically unknown to them; even on holiday, they were worrying about business matters – to the extent, in some cases, of remaining in contact daily no matter how remote their holiday venue. And all the other segments suffered similarly.
I don’t want to sound like some kind of evangelist, but consider some words from the Christian Bible: ‘What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world yet lose his own soul?’ There’s the dilemma.
The answer? That’s for you to decide.