Keeping Promises to Yourself

Keeping promises to yourselfI’ve noticed that I often have more motivation to accomplish goals and tasks at work, or for others, than my own personal goals and tasks.

Have you experienced this too?

Like the builder who constructs great homes for others, but hasn’t finished his own personal home remodeling project? Or the doctor who takes good care of other people, but not herself?

Lawrence LeShan observed this phenomenon when he said:

“Most of us are pretty good at keeping promises to others and pretty bad at keeping promises to ourselves.”

Why is this? [Read more…]

Three Words for Greater Focus & Clarity

Focus, clarity, work life balanceJust three words can bring you greater clarity, focus, and work-life balance…

The first quarter of 2011 is in the books!  January, February and March are history. Did you accomplish all you had hoped for in the first three months of 2011?

If so…Congratulations!!!

If not…What will make the difference for you over the next three quarters, or just in this next quarter for April, May and June?  What will help you stay focused in achieving your goals and dreams?

Here’s a tip I learned from Chris Brogan on how to bring clarity and focus to the next season of life and work:

Identify three words that will be the guiding pillars for what you will focus on for the next three months….three words that will guide all your actions and efforts.

[Read more…]

Best Employers for Work-Life Balance in 2010

Best Employers for Work-Life Balance

What company was the best employer for work-life balance in 2010? It depends on whom you ask.

This year, I was surprised to discover the number groups that created their own list of the best employers for work-life balance (and other issues related to it). I wrote about a few of them here at Life Compass over the last year.

10 Best Employers for Work-Life Balance

In February, I wrote about the 10 Best Employers for Work Life Balance, as determined by Fortune Magazine, which ranked SAS as #1. One of the Best Companies for the 13 years Fortune has been counting, SAS boasts a laundry list of benefits — high-quality child care at $410 a month, 90% coverage of the health insurance premium, unlimited sick days, a medical center staffed by four physicians and 10 nurse practitioners (at no cost to employees), a free 66,000-square-foot fitness center and aquatic center, a lending library, and a summer camp for children.

Working Mother Best Companies to Work For

Over the summer, Working Mother released its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, along with the Top 10 Best Companies to Work For.  For 25 years, Working Mother has ranked America’s companies for their family-friendliness and the benefits they provide for working mothers including schedule flexibility, telecommuting and temporary part-time work options, and programs to help women achieve greater work-life balance.  Among the top 10, in alpha order, were:  Bank of America, Deloitte, Discovery Communications, Ernst & Young, General Mills, IBM, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, WellStar Health Systems.

10 Happiest Holiday Retailers

Achieve Your GoalsIn November, I found a list of the 10 Happiest Holiday Retailers from  This report is based on almost 100,000 independent company reviews submitted by visitors to to evaluate levels of current and past employee happiness in the following categories:  growth opportunity, compensation, benefits, work-life balance, career advancement, senior management, job security, and whether the employee would recommend their company to others.  Top company on this list was Costco. I guess this gives me another reason to feel good about being a Costco member!

Best Adoption Friendly Workplaces in America

Also in November (National Adoption Month), the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption announced the Best Adoption Friendly Workplaces in America, This list highlights 100 employers in America that offer the best adoption benefits to their employees.  The rankings are based on the maximum amount of financial aid or reimbursement that is offered, along with the amount of paid time off given to employees when they adopt. The late Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy’s fast food chain, was a strong advocate for adoption.  Which is one reason why the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption sponsors this list, and presumably why the Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, Inc. is in the #1 position.

Best Practices for an Employer to Promote Work Life Balance

So, what do these top work-life balance companies have in common?  And what can other employers learn from them about promoting work-life balance in their organizations?

As I survey the lists, a couple of things stand out:

  • Flexible scheduling – Allowing employees to work a schedule that suits them best for a particular day, based on their personal needs.  For example, allowing them the ability to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.  Or being able to take time off for personal errands, kids activities, or personal projects.
  • Telecommuting – Giving employees the option to work from home, a coffee shop, or other location outside of the office or workplace. Some companies allow people to do this permanently.  Others allow it once a week, or for special projects.
  • Investment in personal growth and development – Providing funding for an employee to get a degree, attend workshops, complete professional certification programs, or get coaching for both their professional work and personal growth.
  • Concierge Services – Offer employees services that help to simplify their personal life, like on-site child care, cleaning service, shopping service, providing meals, etc.
  • Care – When employees know that their boss genuinely cares about them and is concerned not just about their work performance but their personal life, that translates into goodwill that money can’t buy and carries over into how the employee treats their fellow employees and customers.
  • Fun – Many of these companies provide a “fun” work environment.  This doesn’t mean that things are all fun and games.  But it does mean that people find appropriate times to have fun, and celebrate, while they work.  It could mean allowing employees to wear jeans on Friday (or everyday), or wearing a sports jersey of their favorite team on game day, or holding contests or special events that bring people closer together as a team.

I’m keeping my eyes open for the 2011 lists of the best employers for work-life balance.  Do you think your employer could make the list?  Why or why not?

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Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?

Work Life Balance

Digital marketing maven Mitch Joel, of Six Pixels of Separation, said work-life balance is a myth in one of his recent blog posts:

There is no such thing as work/life balance. By even saying there is such balance, you’re making an internal agreement that work is not a part of a healthy life, and I just don’t buy it. Like you, I put a good chunk of my waking hours against the work I do. I can’t accept that it doesn’t constitute an important and real part of my life. In the end, I’m not looking for work/life balance…I’m looking for life balance.

I’m not so sure I’m following Mitch correctly.  Is he saying that anyone who claims to be pursuing work-life balance is invalidating the importance of work in their lives?  I’ve never met anyone who has done that – have you?

Why call it work-life balance?

I think the phrase “work-life balance” came about because most of us spend more time doing work than doing anything else (except maybe sleeping, perhaps, and that’s iffy for a lot of us – me, for sure).  As Robert Pagliarini points out in The Other 8 Hours, the average person spends about 8 hours working and 8 hours sleeping (your personal mileage may vary), leaving 8 hours to do everything else in your life.

Anyone I’ve ever met or read who is pursuing a balanced life does so because they recognized that their work, while valued and important, could easily dominate their life if they let it.  They came to a point where they realized they didn’t just want to “win” at work, but in the other areas of their life as well.

Gratefully, some people are able to see the need for change, and take steps toward greater balance and alignment, before it’s too late. Others don’t have a clue until their spouse leaves, the kids don’t care if they’re home or not, they have a heart attack, or lose their job (along with their sense of identity which was wrapped up in their work).

While I don’t get Mitch’s initial premise that the idea of work-life balance is a myth, I do think we’re saying the same thing when we talk about the need to pursue life balance.

Mitch suggests there are basically three areas in our lives that need to be balanced, which he calls the three-legged stool:

  1. Personal
  2. Business
  3. Community

I can go along with him on that, although I like to break it down even further, into six basic life areas. So while his analogy is a three-legged stool, I guess mine is a pie (pecan, please) with six pieces in it:

  1. Financial/Career
  2. Personal Development
  3. Physical Health
  4. Community
  5. Spiritual
  6. Family/Home

I like his strategy of making rules, or commitments, to help you maintain a balanced life.  I think you can best do that after you have first identified your values – the things that are most important to you – for each of those life areas.

And for some of us, it might be helpful to identify minimum and maximum expectations or goals for each area, so we know whether we’re on-target or not.

What do you think? Is work-life balance a myth?  Does using that term mean you’re invalidating the importance of your work?

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Life Compass Blog’s Weekly Roundup for Dec 25

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!

On Saturdays, I offer a weekly roundup of posts from other blogs on the topic of money, personal growth, and work-life balance.  Here are some that I found interesting this week.  But first…

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Jesus had been born in today’s connected web/Facebook/Twitter world?  Here’s a video called Christmas 2.0 that I really enjoyed.

Frugal Dad offers 5 smart year-end money moves.

Free Money Finance gives tips on how to become a one income family. I remember when my wife and I thought this was impossible.  But 14 years after we made the decision, we’ve never looked back or regretted it.

Christian PF reports that the average amount of time to find a job now is 211 days, and reminds us why it is important to have an emergency fund.

Personal Finance by the Book explains why the Magi were wise gift givers.

Work-Life Balance Tip From My Dog

Have you ever had goals that seemed to conflict with one another and throw off your work-life balance?  I faced that situation earlier this week.

I really wanted to go to the health club to exercise.  I had been on a business trip over the last week and didn’t make the time to exercise much at all during the trip. I knew I needed to get back into exercising ASAP.

But our family’s dog demanded my attention.  My wife and kids had been gone all day, and the dog wanted me to play and rough-house with her.  I knew I ought to spend some time with her, since she’d been cooped up all day. But I knew I needed to exercise too.

Then I had a thought:  Instead of running on the track or treadmill at the health club, why not take the dog for a run outside?  I’d get the exercise I wanted, and she’d get some exercise and play with me at the same time.

So I did it.  I “killed two birds with one stone,” so to speak.  That sounds kind of violent, but I don’t know what else to call it.

It’s not multi-tasking, where you attempt to do multiple tasks at the same time.  This is different, because I only did one task but accomplished multiple goals at the same time.

Whatever  I call it, I realized this could be big and give me a multiplier effect.  Working on multiple goals with just one action could really add up and help me move farther, faster, toward my goals and dreams, and help me maintain balance in my life.

I’m starting to think about other goals that could be combined in one action.  Which ones do you think could work for you?

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