Work–Life Balance

Work–Life Balance

Do you ponder the concept of work–life balance? Does it really exist? If so, how can it be achieved? After last week’s TMC, many people messaged me saying I need to slow down and get more work-life balance. So, I thought I would discuss the topic!

About seven years ago, I delivered a TEDx Talk on Work-Life Balance. (It’s interesting how mean and nasty people can be when they disagree with you or your opinions online and post comments—but such is the web!)

I will recap my messages, and then provide an update “7 years later.”

  • Work–Life Balance does not exist—only work–life integration.
  • The days of 9 to 5 are gone. In order to hold a job and be successful, you need to stop chasing work–life balance and achieve work–life integration.
  • Work–life Integration allows you to integrate the professional/business side of your life with your personal life. Perhaps a business trip includes a family vacation, or time in the middle of the work day to go for lunch and a long afternoon walk with your partner, family member, or friend, or working on a proposal Saturday morning before your family gets up.
  • It is about integrating your personal and professional lives to achieve the best of both worlds.

For me, not a lot has changed on this philosophy in seven years. It remains a constant—I still believe in work–life integration. Even during the pandemic when I was home with my family for two years as I only travelled about 10-12 days in each of those years (versus being on the road pre-pandemic for 150 days a year), I still practised work–life integration. I combined my daily 10K walks with podcast listening, I attended all my daughter’s sport events driving all over Vancouver Island, but also working in the local McDonald’s (great Wi-fi and green tea!) during her practices when parents could not go into the arenas.

I have accepted the fact that, for some, there can be work–life balance to some extent. For those who are not in management roles, are not entrepreneurs who own their own businesses, or are innovative or strive to get to the next level—yes, you can achieve some work–life balance. It won’t be perfect, but it can exist. When you have finished your job for the day and “punched out” after your 7.5 hours, you can leave work behind. The concerns of customer service, peer support, or having enough stock for tomorrow are not your concern. You can leave it all behind and go home to spend the next 7.5 or 8 hours with your family and friends. This does exist and it needs to exist. This is a lifestyle and desire that suits many people. That’s a good thing. We need those people to work in the businesses of the entrepreneurs and managers. Everyone has a role to play. So, in this instance, and for this group of people, work–life balance exists—and it’s important that it does. But for the others, in the roles I have described, it doesn’t exist. It becomes work–life integration.

One podcast I listen to is Tony Chapman’s Chatter that Matters! Recently, he interviewed (for a third time) Canadian Entrepreneur and owner of 17 businesses, Bryan Baeumler. Bryan nailed the work–life integration question well. He spoke about having 100% of your available time available! It is how you allocate that time each day that is important and there will be different priorities on different days. Some days, you will need/want to spend more time with your partner because you want or need to. On those days, 80% of your time might be for family or friends. Another day, business will prevail because there is a crisis or some innovation you are working on, and on that day, 90% of the available waking hours might be at work. And another day, your kids may get the bulk of your time. It is about focusing on what is important each day—what needs focus on that day and at that time. If you want, listen to this interview on Chatter that Matters brought to you by RBC!

For the majority of those in our industry reading this TMC, work–life balance does not exist. Understand how to embrace and engage in work–life integration as you travel the road to success. Searching for work–life balance will only frustrate you. It is not achievable for you or me!

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