Work-Life Balance: It’s Not What You Think It Is

When people complain about work/life balance, their major gripe is that they work too many hours and have too little free time. In other words, they almost always see it as a quantity issue.  But is it really?

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Like most working professionals, I’ve spent a good part of my life thinking about how to best achieve a healthy work/life balance. Clearly, there is enough research to convince us all that doing so will certainly lead to a happier, healthier life.

Over the years, though, what I have noticed is that this elusive “balance” actually has very little to do with quantity. Instead, it has more to do with quality, with how your time is spent when you are either working or playing.

In my mind, balance is determined by how energized and engaged we are, regardless of whether we’re at our desks or in our dens. There is no hard-and-fast formula for how much time you should spend at work and at home to be happy.

Think about it: if you’re on a roll and accomplishing a lot, a 60 or even 70-hour workweek can be exhilarating. On the other hand, if you’re bored, apathetic, or discouraged, a 40-hour workweek can drag on…and on…and on as you become progressively more exhausted.

For most high achievers, I think the real reason why we feel a lack of balance isn’t that we don’t have enough free time; it’s that we spend the free time we do have feeling frustrated and angry. And when our “life” time is stressful and draining, we bring that misery with us to the office, which decreases professional satisfaction…and creates a vicious cycle.

So, what’s to be done? Here are some ideas to incorporate into your personal time that might help you find some of that elusive balance you’ve been chasing for years:

Stop treating your loved ones like employees… If you’re an ambitious high achiever at work, you have a certain personality type. Plus, you’re used to everyone on your team pulling their weight, acting with initiative, meeting deadlines, etc. So you carry these “professional” expectations home with you. You expect your spouse and your kids to be high performers too. And when they aren’t, you spend all your time explaining, convincing and nagging—in essence, giving them bad performance reviews. Not only does this hurt your relationships and create a tense environment at home; it also means that in some ways, you’re never off the clock.

…and adjust your expectations of others. Accept the fact that in your personal life, you can’t force your friends, neighbors, spouse, and even kids to have the priorities you think they should. You can’t force them to complete tasks in the way you would complete them. You can’t even ensure that others will fulfill (what you see as) their full potentials. I’m not saying that you should accept failure or condone mediocrity, but do realize that it’s not your “job” to micromanage how others live their lives. You might be surprised by how much weight this mental shift lifts from your shoulders!

Instead, focus on preserving and nurturing relationships. The next time you find yourself focusing on getting things done at home or fixating on how they’re getting done, ask yourself: Is what I’m doing right now helping or hurting my relationships? Is it pushing me closer or farther away from my loved ones? Is it energizing or draining me? If the answer isn’t positive, follow up with: How important is this task or action, really? Is it more or less important than my relationship?

Keep your family in the loop. When you’re busy or stressed at work, the tension tends to mount at home, too. And if it feels like your family is uncaring or oblivious, you’ll be that much more frustrated. Help your family help you by putting them on notice whenever possible. If you know the Friday before vacation will be stressful and you’ll probably have to work late, make sure they know they shouldn’t expect you to do all of the packing. If you’re on deadline for a big project and you’ll have to do some work at home, explain that it’s important for you to have peace and quiet. Often what goes “wrong” (and disrupts your balancing act) is that your loved ones get a surprise and aren’t prepared to help you guard your sanity.

Unplug as much as possible when you’re at home. Yes, you’ve heard this one before, but be honest: are you really unplugging? Thanks to laptops and smartphones, most of us are only a scroll, click, or swipe away from the office. Even if you “only” check your email after the kids are in bed or send “just a few” texts to a colleague, for instance, you’re still bringing work home. Instead of focusing on all of the activities you want to accomplish in your free time, you’re forcing your brain to think on two different tracks at once, which depletes your mental, emotional, and even physical bandwidth. Of course you’re stressed and irritated! Use this rule of thumb: if it can wait until the next workday, let it.

Don’t forget to nurture yourself. Think back over the last few weeks or months. Is there a recurring thought of, I didn’t get to do this enough? (I’m not talking about chores; but about activities you enjoy.) Whether it’s journaling, reading for pleasure, playing with your kids, or indulging in a hobby, it really is important to do things that make you happy on a regular basis. For me, that activity is working out. I need to be active to feel healthy and balanced. Don’t buy into the notion that your needs and wants can wait. If you want a healthy work-life balance, they really can’t!

Develop a spiritual awareness. I’m not talking about religion, per se, but about doing something for your soul. Serve others, attend church services, meditate, take a solitary walk in nature—whatever is most meaningful to you. In a world that’s full of noise, distractions, and responsibilities that are constantly competing for our attention, it is so easy to be sucked dry. (And often, you don’t even notice that it’s happening until you’re completely burned out.)

Staying connected to yourself, to other people, to your values, and (if you so choose) a Higher Power will help you to live with more balance.

One more thing: don’t forget that your balanced life won’t look like mine or anyone else’s, because the root of balance is centered in what fuels, energizes, and revitalizes you.

If you’re not sure exactly what that is, well, you’ve just hit upon one of the biggest benefits of embarking on the journey to work/life balance.  You get to learn something new about yourself. If you’ve been too you’re busy trying to control and shape everyone around you, you’ve probably been too busy to discover what brings you joy. It’s time to change that. Enjoy the ride!

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Winners Experiment!

Thomas Edison said “I have not failed.
I have just found 10,000 things that do not work.”

Scientist in laboratory holding sample

Scientist in laboratory holding sample


It is no secret that throughout our lives we will encounter a mired of problems. The difference that makes us losers or winners is how we deal with our problems. Problem solving is an experimental art. Sometimes the solution is not clear and we must try several things before we find the answer.

The solution to a problem may not be easy to discover. However, a winner will relentlessly pursue new avenues and consistently experiment until it is solved.

It would be wonderful to have the ability to solve all problems efficiently and in a timely fashion without difficulty, unfortunately there is no one way in which all problems can be solved. This why we MUST be persistent and continue to experiment until we can solve our problems. It is crucial that we develop our problem solving skills if we wish to be successful.

Once we learn how to solve our problems, we can then discover how to learn from our problems and the process it took to solve them. Like Thomas Edison, you may find 10,000 things that don’t work, but rest assured the one thing that does is out there.

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Can-Do!

Walt Disney once said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Now there is a man who had a can-do attitude!

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Those who accomplish great things have a can-do attitude.

When we look at our dreams, many of us say we can’t do this or that because of time or money or some other frivolous excuse. The fact is that you CAN do what it takes to make your dreams come true and reach your goals if you believe you can.

Have you ever herd the saying “dreams don’t work unless you do”? This is absolutely true. We must be willing to work for our dreams, do whatever it takes to reach them. If you plan to be successful in all that you do, you must never say can’t. Where there is a will there is a way and you must be more willful than the obstacles that intend to make you quit.

Stop playing by others’ rules, and stop comparing yourself to others. Stop thinking in negatively about why you can’t do something and instead start thinking positively about how you can make things work on your own terms, using your skills and abilities.

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Ambitiously Accountable

“Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.”- John Di Lemme

accountability-VS-responsibility2Part of being successful is being accountable, not only to others, but to yourself as well. When we are accountable to ourselves we prove our accountability to others. Accountability helps us develop consistency and good habits.

When you are personally accountable, you take ownership of situations that you’re involved in. You see them through, and you take responsibility for the consequences – good or bad. You don’t blame others if things go wrong. Instead, you do your best to make things right.

In the workplace, accountability can go beyond your own tasks. You may be in charge of a team of people, in which case you would be accountable for your team’s actions and tasks as well.

Before you can be accountable, you must be honest. Success comes when you’re completely honest with yourself, and with others. This means setting aside your pride, and admitting when you’ve made a mistake. You then must will to remedy that mistake and be able to learn from it.

If you can be honest with yourself and live an accountable life, you will be well on your way to living an ambitiously successful life.

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You Decide When It’s Over

“Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation.” –Unknown

Entrepreneurs with high determination actively pursue their goals. they identify opportunities, take initiative, and rise above obstacles. They are focused on winning and will not take no for an answer. This attitude helps them launch new businesses, enter new markets, and invent new products despite formidable barriers.

Simply put, successful people do not give up. They are ambitious, they are driven and you must be these things if you want to reach your goals. No one can tell you when it is over, only YOU can decide when it is over. You know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed try again. Life is going to throw all sorts of obstacles at you that will make it more difficult to reach your goals, but you must overcome them, you must never give up.

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Just Say Hi

“Kind Words Can Be Short And Easy To Speak, But Their Echoes Are Truly Endless.”- Mother Teresa

helloAccording to Psychology Today, Recent research suggests that kindness may improve resiliency by promoting feelings of happiness and peace and supporting immunity.  Cultivating happiness and peace is a key to resiliency because it bolsters one’s ability to stay grounded during difficult times.  It also keeps the body healthy and helps ward off disease.  Additionally, by improving interpersonal relationships, kindness can help build support systems so crucial during crises.

Research aside, think about the last time someone left you a kind note or sent you an email to just say hi, how did those small gestures make you feel? They probably made you feel happy and cared about. It does not take much to make someone’s day, the smallest gesture of kindness make a huge difference to someone.

My challenge to you is commit one small kind gesture to someone different each week. This could be sending an email to a friend just to say or a letter to a loved one, or even just a sticky note on the fridge for your spouse. Any way you can give a little kindness and encouragement will be appreciated more than you know.

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Let the Past Stay in the Past

As Human Beings We Can Have A
Tendency To Dwell On The Past.

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We think about how we could have done things better or changed our actions to bring about a different result. I have been sitting around so many times picturing a conversation that has already happened and coming up with other, more brilliant things to have said. And to what end? This obsessive dwelling on the past is not helping anyone.

We cannot go back and change our actions; we can only look to the future and focus on real actions that could change our lives for the better.

Sometimes people stay focused on the past because they think it will define their future. They believe that whatever choices they made in the past have set them on one particular path that they cannot change. This is absolutely not the case! We must all stay optimistic about what the future holds, for we can always change our circumstance in some way.

As Buddha once said, “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” All you need is a little encouragement and a positive outlook, focusing not on the past but rather the future and all of the possibilities that it holds.

There are so many people who have gone on from humble beginning to achieve great things. They never let their past define who they were going to become in their future. It is important to maintain a positive attitude because you can never be sure where your past will lead you.

The past can certainly be helpful to you in some cases, but it never has to be something that closes doors for you. As long as you stay positive and work hard, you can always find a way to bring about the future you would like to have, no matter what you have done in the past.

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Failure is not Final

We Have All Failed At Something Before.

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Whether it has been a small or big failure, it is never a pleasant feeling to realize that you have not succeeded at something. However, failure is not final.

Just because you do not accomplish a task the first time does not mean that you will never find success in that area. You simply have not accomplished it yet, but given another opportunity you might be able to achieve what you set out to do. Failure is something to learn from; it is simply a stepping-stone to move you onto your path of success. Even if you fail at something, you have learned from that attempt, allowing you to take what you have learned and apply it to your next try. The important thing is not to give up.

Even famous people who we see today as being geniuses whose every discovery came easily to them failed at some point. Thomas Edison famously tried thousands of time before he was able to make the light bulb work. When asked about this failure, he would simply tell people that he had come up with thousands of not to make a light bulb. He kept trying and eventually was successful in creating the light bulb and is now remembered throughout all of history for this achievement. He believed in what he was doing and knew that eventually he could be successful.

Later on, Edison remarked, “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” He truly believed, as do I, that you should never give up trying to achieve your goal. You never know how close you are to accomplishing what you set out to do, and if you give up once you hit a roadblock you will never know. All you need is some positivity and a change of outlook in order to continue pursuing your end goal. Always remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again!

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Finding Passion in Discontentment

It Can Be Easy To Find Yourself Discouraged When You Are Faced With Dissatisfaction In Your Life.

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You might find yourself discontented with something going on in your life and be tempted to simply give up on it or continue on in the same manner, unhappy with the world around you. I promise, this is not the only solution to discontentment.

Passion can almost always be birthed out of dissatisfaction in your current state. Let discontentment be an indication for the need for change. Whenever you feel disgruntled in your life, take time and examine exactly what it is that is causing you to feel that way. Analyze the situation, and decide if there is anything that you can do to improve the situation. You just might find that working on the situation leads you to realize that you are passionate about making change.

Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” He was a proponent of people not settling for just whatever they were given, but wanted everyone to step up and take action. I think this is absolutely true and relevant to every person. When you find yourself discontented, do something about it. Let it fuel your passion, inspire you to make a change, and head towards success.

We should never simply accept discontentment in our lives, nor should we let it be a reason to give up. Instead we should view it as something transformative. It could lead us on a path to something new and exciting that we could never have even imagined before. In order to do this we need to be ready to take action and seek change when something is not going the way we would like in our lives. A new outlook can do wonders to improve a situation, and if we start seeing discontentment as the first step to positive experiences in our lives, we can change our own circumstances with greater ease and optimism.

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The First Step to Success

If You’ve Ever Found Yourself Wondering
Whether Or Not You Should Take A Chance,
Stop Wondering And Start!

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In order to be successful in something, you first have to start doing it. There is a saying that goes, “You miss every shot that you don’t take.” When you don’t act, nothing ever happens to you. Fate is not going to come along and accomplish everything for you; you need to take action. You must take that first step, try something new, and then work towards your success.

It is natural to be afraid of something new and not want to begin it, but you cannot let that fear paralyze you. “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Everyone has experienced nerves before they started something. They were jumping into the unknown, which can be terrifying! However, this is not a good enough reason to keep yourself from trying something for the first time. Everyone does things for the first time constantly throughout their lives. It could be something small, like thinking about learning a foreign language, or it could be something much bigger, like starting your own company. Whatever it might be that you are thinking about doing for the first time, you need to take the first step towards your goal in order to achieve it.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” You cannot persevere, much less succeed, if you never try. We all want to have success in the things that we do; it’s human to want that. In order to become good at something, we need to start doing it. Even if it seems difficult, we must persevere, because in the end it will be worth it. New experiences always bring some form of reward, for they teach us about ourselves if nothing else. We get to learn and grow in new and exciting ways when we begin something new. It is exciting to find out new things about ourselves, but in order to do this we must first step away from what is familiar and take the first step down a new path. Already you will be on your way to success, just for overcoming the fear and challenges that come with beginning something new.

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