What is Work / Life Balance?

Nigel Marsh at TEDxSydney

Work/life balance is a topic that has gotten a fair amount of press in the last decade or so.  My observation is that it has been an increasingly difficult thing to achieve with the advent of “social media” and the ease of communication via email.  There are so many channels and ways to connect…but are we making the right connections, the important ones?

I found a wonderful 10 minute video by on this topic from TEDxSydney.  You can pack a lot in 10 minutes, let me tell you.  Nigel Marsh is the author of “Fat, Forty and Fired” and “Overworked and Underlaid.”

As this is a Ponderings & Insights article, I’ve got some questions for you to ponder:

  • Do you find it difficult to balance work and life?
    • How do you define the balance?
    • What do you do to set boundaries?
    • What timeframe are you measuring with?  A single day, a week, a month or something else?
  • Do  you have a clear idea of where life ends and work starts?
    • How do you define work?
    • How do you define life, what do you include?  (e.g. is working out really “life”, for me it isn’t)
  • What would your ideal day look like?

Here’s an interesting quote from Nigel’s video (click here to see the video):

“There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

So here are some of the thoughts and insights I took away:

  • Some jobs choices and careers are fundamentally in opposition to balance. 
    • Many of mine have been. 
    • Time to do a bit of reassessment…at a deeper level that I already had been.
  • There are multiple dimensions that need to be cared for – the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of each of us.
    • While I do know this, I’m asking myself if I am focusing enough on balancing all of them.
    • Should I “schedule in” meditation time or is perhaps even needing to schedule it in a sign of a potential issue?
  • Small things matter.  That there is great value with focused time.  Especially with your kids. 

I know I’ve reached a critical point with the last one.  One of my daughters has twice said this week that I am on the computer too much and has directly asked me to get off.  She went on to talk with Dad about computers – that she thinks people use them too much.  Not just our family, but everywhere.  This wisdom…from a 9 year old. 

We tell our children that winning isn’t everything but are we demonstrating that.  I wonder?  How often are we letting our Ego drive decision making and run the show?  It needs to be heads and hearts together – feeding the mind, emotions, and soul in equal proportion.

It’s time for us to have a family meeting and talk about balance.  How we want to interact.  How we as a family want to define balance.  Our definition of success, not the Ego’s definition.  It’s time to really “put the money where the mouth is” as the saying goes.  Or perhaps, better stated as choose the option with less money, but more family time.

I don’t know what you thought, but for myself, Nigel’s ideal day doesn’t sound so bad to me.  I wonder how many of us wish we had days like that?  How life might truly be different if we did?  Could we do this?  Something to ponder.  That, and how am I really going to spend my day today.  What boundaries will I set?  What activities will I participate in?

Here’s hoping that you find ways to have more special moments, more connected time, and more…


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