Tag Archives: work life balance

“Life, a Balancing Act”

After my September newsletter, one of my readers sent me some great feedback. Although she thought the newsletter was interesting and informative, she was still left wondering how to avoid working 80 hours a week without getting unceremoniously dumped by her company. In other words, she wanted to know more about how to balance her family life with an extremely demanding career, without totally sacrificing one for the other. As a woman, the challenge of this balancing act is often much greater than for a man, for obvious societal reasons. In a world where there is so much to do, how in the world do you avoid working 80 hours a week – and find balance in your life? In considering this question, a quote from William Jennings Bryan comes to mind: “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”Creating your “destiny” in terms of your career requires that you take some time to think about what you really want for yourself and what it takes to create a life that embodies your aspirations. Determining what you want may sound simple, but it is not quick and easy – it is a process, one that you must perpetually repeat, and as such requires a consistent commitment to the following three activities:

1. Determine Your Values

Set aside some time to really think about your values. If you are a parent and you value being present for your child’s school events, finding a job in which your values are actively supported is important. Women are especially good at trying to do it all – if you want to keep your sanity and thrive in the areas you value, make the difficult decisions which allow your life to reflect your values. If you are a working parent and you would really like to spend more time with your children, consider your options and take steps toward your goal.

2. Set Goals

If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, why would you expect to hit on it? What I’ve found in my coaching practice is that some people are very good at setting goals in one or two areas, but neglect the others – in order to create balance, every area needs to be considered.Begin by selecting one day every month in which you can devote two hours to goal setting and management. Set goals in the following seven areas: Financial, Career/Business, Free Time/Family Time, Health/Appearance, Relationship, Personal Growth, Making a Difference. I have an excellent format for keeping track of goals – if you’re interested, send me an email and I’ll send you what I use.

3. Build and Nurture Your Network Consistently

There are a million books out there about the importance and “how to” of networking, so I won’t go into detail here. The most important thing to remember is that relationships are incredibly important no matter which direction you decide to go. Here are a few ways to keep up with your network: attend one networking function a month, send out handwritten notes every day (people are perpetually bombarded with impersonal email!), make phone calls every day, keep track of birthdays (put a reminder in your calendar) and send birthday cards.There is no one magic answer to achieving and maintaining balance. If I sought out and polled 100 top leaders who have managed to find a sense of balance in their lives, I would likely find 100 different balancing acts. Each person has their own unique values and goals, and as a result finding balance is unique to each person.When you know your values, align your life with those values, set goals for yourself and consistently build and nurture your network, you set yourself up for success no matter what organization you’re working for or what job you hold. If the outfit you work for goes “belly up,” but you have budgeted appropriately over the years, stuck to a solid financial plan, continued to develop your skills sets, and maintained a well-nurtured network, you won’t be out of work for long!Please write to tell me how you have achieved balance in your own life. The story of how you tackled your own “balance” problems may just be the inspiration needed by someone else—and I’ll share it in my next newsletter!

“What? You want ‘balance’? We’ve got work to get done!”

So many times I have heard this exact quote when talking with executives about their youngest employees. And so many just like them…

“They’re demanding ‘balance,’ and they’re not willing to do what’s needed to get the job done “who are these people “seriously!”

“When I was just coming into the workforce, I was lucky to have a job “I worked hard “I paid my dues — that’s how you ‘get ahead.’”

“Don’t they understand they need to prove their worth “demonstrate their abilities before they get promoted or get a raise?”

The truth is “they probably don’t know they need to demonstrate their abilities or prove their worth. Why would they? They grow up getting a trophy, even when they didn’t play in the game! By and large, the newest generation entering the workforce was spoon- fed, coddled, and now feel left to fend for themselves in the corporate world where the rules were set long ago “where they clearly do not understand what’s expected of them or how to get what they want. Much of the time, they don’t even know what they want “they’re simply acting out what they’ve heard they should want.

With many having had both parents working full time, generation X and Yers had less adult interaction growing up. They played sports only when ‘organized,’ rather than taking initiative to start a pick-up game. They missed the 1950’s rite of passage of having a paper route at age 11, likely not having their first job until they got to college. For many, their first job is right out of college. They watched an average of 30 hours of television a week, adopting the values of popular culture. Along the way, they missed the basic skills necessary in a corporate environment, like goal-setting, strategizing for their future, time management, and communicating outside email or IM! Instead “they grew up with a “faster is better” mentality “seeing the beginning and magical ending, but no struggle in the middle. They were told what to like, where to be, when to be there “they weren’t encouraged to think for themselves, explore who they are, or learn about facing adversity.

So, with this in mind, what can organizations do to retain and motivate generations X and Y “get them to perform and stop griping about things like “balance” so much? Here are 3 great ideas to get you started:

Don’t take them personally! When they say things like “I’m going to have your job in 6 months” and you’re a Senior VP of the company, recognize it’s not about you “they just don’t get it!
Don’t make assumptions about what they “should” know. When you see a gap, provide the training they need, either one-on-one or through formal programs. As a manager, sitting down with your young employees and helping them see the progressive steps in their career, will help reduce their anxiety and build loyalty “yes, they perceive you care! Also, providing workshops on time management, goal-setting, networking, and career management are very helpful.
Ask them what they want/need, and help them see the context in which you make the decision about what is possible to do for them. I have come into companies and facilitated discussions with generation X and Y employees to determine exactly what they want and helped generate a way to give them what they want while keeping an eye on the bottom line. Simply caring enough to ask them what they want makes a big difference “again, they perceive the organization cares about them!
When organizations can let go of “the way it’s always been” and become focused on the benefits of an engaged workforce throughout the organization, so much more can be achieved! I challenge your organization to listen to what your generation X and Y employees are asking for “and generate a plan with them to achieve your bottom line results.