How to Define Work-Life Balance?

We don’t often think about work-life balance until someone or something tells us we don’t have it.  By then, it is sometimes too late.

Like when your spouse says, “I don’t love you anymore,” or when the kids say they hate that you’re never home (and when you are home, you’re not really home, if you know what I mean).  Or when you’re rushed to the hospital due to a stroke or heart attack.

Sadly, these things don’t just happen out of the blue, without warning, because our lives don’t get out of balance in one day, without warning.  We lose balance over time, through a series of actions that, in and of themselves, may not be so bad.  But add them all up, and we are way off course from where we want to be.  And the warning signs are there…but we often deceive ourselves into thinking we can keep doing the same things but somehow get different results.

What is Work-Life Balance?

I define work-life balance as an intentional state of harmony and wholeness that exists within the seven major life areas (categories) in a person’s life:  Family, Career, Financial, Social, Health, Personal Development, and Spiritual/Ethical.

It is true that many people tend to focus more on their career life area to the detriment of the others – most often the family life area.  This happens because we typically spend so much of our time and energy at work.  But really, any life area can become out of balance by focusing too much, or too little, energy there.

When I say that work-life balance is “an intentional state of harmony,” I mean that it does not happen naturally, or by default.  If it did, we wouldn’t have millions of stressed-out people in this world, would we?  When we re-orient our lives toward achieving balance, we enjoy more peace and less stress.

How is Work Life Balance Achieved?

From my experience, work-life balance is a journey, not necessarily a destination.  I find that I achieve the most balance (and harmony) in my life when I do these four things:

  1. Make a conscious decision to prioritize my personal values and commitments (goals) within each life area.  Each life area must get attention, but not all life areas carry the same weight at the same time.  And not all commitments within each life area are of the same importance.
  2. Create a written plan of action designed to help me achieve these commitments.
  3. Set aside time each week to track and review the progress being made.
  4. Recruit an accountability partner to check up on you and hold you accountable for the commitments you’ve made.

I think #3 and #4 are missing ingredients for many people, and the reason why we so often fail at achieving work-life balance.

Let’s face it, it is easy for most of us to craft a plan.  But real success comes from implementing the plan, not just making it.  It comes from tracking and reviewing progress and making adjustments as needed.  And when others know of our plans and agree to hold us accountable and encourage us to succeed.

Over the next few posts, I’ll explain exactly how to follow these steps toward work-life balance, so be sure to come back, or sign up for our RSS feed so you don’t miss it.  Next, I’ll tell you How My Journey Toward Work-Life Balance Began.


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