We all strive for work/life balance and it often seems like a distant dream. The demands of work are endless and we know we can’t accomplish everything even if we work 24/7. For some reason, we still keep trying to clear our inbox and “to do” list every day while shortchanging our personal lives.
There’s a great article, Work vs Life, Forget About Balance – You Have to Make Choices, in this month’s Harvard Business Review. The article is based on five years of interviews with over 4000 executives worldwide and a survey of 82 executives in an HBS leadership course.
You can read the entire article here http://hbr.org/2014/03/manage-your-work-manage-your-life/ar/1
The results are very interesting with many varying perspectives of personal and professional success. In the interviews, the executives agree that you need to define what personal and professional success means to you. What I consider personal and professional success is unique to me and may be very different from your definition of success.
Men consider professional success in terms of providing for their family. They feel it’s their job to provide income which provides family security. In their mind, this justifies the long hours they work and the lack of quality time they spend with their family. I’m not sure if I agree with this perspective but most male executives share this belief.
Women rarely view themselves as working for their families the way men do. Women view their role as modeling for their children. It’s important for women to be viewed by their children, especially their daughters, as competent professionals. Women also don’t consider financial success as a barometer of their career success while men place a high value on financial success.
The article explores many other factors in detail but my biggest takeaway is that you have to define what success means to you and create the life which lets you focus on what’s important to you. The bottom line is you have to make choices and sacrifices in your personal and professional life. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it’s really hard to have your cake and eat it to!
Ive struggled with work/life balance most of my career. I walked away from successful corporate positions twice because the expectations of the job was affecting my health and my relationship with my wife and family. I have no regrets leaving jobs I loved because it gave me the freedom to spend quality time with my family even though it meant temporary financial setbacks. I’ll always choose my freedom over making more money because my family time is my highest priority,
What’s important to you? What are your work/life goals? Let me know by commenting below and sharing your perspective.