Tips for Work-Life Unbalance

Here at LifeCompassBlog, I’ve given you what I think are some good reasons for pursuing work-life balance.

Today I’m going to give you some reasons why it may be OK to get out of balance in the short-term, and six tips on how to do it in a way that ultimately restores balance, builds your family life, and helps you achieve your long-term goals.

I just read a story at FreeMoneyFinance about The Hildebrandt family of New Richmond, WI, which eliminated $106,000 in debt in five years.  They did it the old-fashioned way, by cutting costs and increasing revenue.

To increase their revenue, the dad took a second job working in a grocery store in the middle of the night.  His schedule was absolutely crazy.  He’d work his day job, then come home, eat dinner with the family, take a nap, then go to his night job from midnight to 4:30, then come home, take a nap, then go to his day job.

A casual observer might look at their situation and conclude that the dad’s life was seriously out of balance and that he was pursuing money at the expense of his health and family life.

But if we look a little closer, we gain some good insights on when and why, I believe, it might be OK to do this. Here are some tips we can learn from the Hildebrandts, along with some others I thought of:

  1. Have a specific goal in mind. This family made a serious commitment to get out of debt.  Other potential reasons why it may be ok:  Start a business (full or part-time), go back to school, or any other major goal or commitment that will help bring more freedom into your life.
  2. Find a way to impact multiple life areas. This isn’t always possible, but you’ll move ahead farther, faster, if you can work on several life areas at the same time.  For example, this family’s decision to pay off debt positively impacted their “financial” life area, but it also was going to do good things long-term for their “career”, “family”, “health” life areas too, by giving them less stress and more freedom to do what they wanted in the future.
  3. Consider the cost up-front. They decided that, to get out of debt, dad was going to have to work more, and they were going to have to spend less on other activities.  In other words, they realized that some things are going to have to suffer short-term in order to achieve the long-term goal.  People get into huge trouble, and stress, when they think they can make a major change in one area while also trying to keep all the other areas moving along at the same speed.
  4. Agree on a specific time frame. They decided to make these changes for a specific purpose and a specific time frame.  They were all looking forward to the day when their goal would be reached.  Once it was, the dad was able to quit his extra job.
  5. Commit to regular check-ups. Whenever we’re making some major change in our lives, we need to do regular check-ups with everyone that is affected.  Make sure everyone’s still on the same page, that they see light at the end of the tunnel, that they’re still working toward the same goal for the reason that was decided on at the beginning.  Without these check-ups, people can lose heart.
  6. Plan rewards at milestones. Set some intermediate goals or milestones along the way, and find a way to celebrate those.  It gives people hope, and helps them see the progress that is being made toward the big goal.

For more tips on how families can make major change and handle competing priorities, check out my review of Pat Lencioni’s book The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family.

Do you have any other ideas or comments?  If so, please be sure to share them!

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