You Don’t Want Work Life Balance

Work life balance is a regular topic of discussion in some of the CEO groups I facilitate. While everyone agrees the purpose of being an entrepreneur is to have more control over your life, that control is often elusive.  Stories of business leaders missing family events, kids’ sports activities and school awards are so common, many have become numb to the disappointment.

The people who thrive in this environment don’t have any expectation their life will be “balanced.” Instead they have adopted a practice I call the “blurred line.” This means there is no well-defined separation between work and life at any given point.  And candidly, when you adopt this holistic approach to your life, you never look back.

What This Is Not

I’m sure there is a psychologist reading this with outrage and I’ll get comments about the unhealthy ability to be fully present in the moment while at work or at home because of this approach.  That’s why it is important to point out what I’m not advocating.

This doesn’t mean you answer your work phone while at dinner with your family, or text while at your daughter’s dance recital. It also doesn’t mean you miss the critical client pitch because your infant has his 2-year-old check-up either.

Simple Rules

To keep things from becoming derailed, you set up simple rules that follow commonsense. Here are mine:

No electronics at family meals. There’s nothing worse than telling someone about your day while they stare at an iPhone.

Designate sacred time. There must be time for family bonding (game night, movie night, arts and crafts, etc.), intimacy, and spirituality.

If you’re going to be at a kids’ sporting event or extra circular activity, be present. Don’t be physically there but mentally at work.

Designate a place in your home for work activities – like phone calls, writing and reviewing important documents. People in your family must respect this space and not interrupt you.

The rules are in effect during vacations and holidays as well.

Eliminate Guilt

The most important part of this holistic approach is to have a conversation with your partner/spouse and agree there will be no guilt as long as the rules are followed.  You’ve both chosen this lifestyle and it works for you.

You work when you need to work and when you want to work.

This approach has allowed me to participate in the lives of my children for the past ten years, take several vacations each year and derive a great deal of enjoyment from my life.  I work from home and travel about 5-10 days per month. In the summer, I bring my family with me on trips to meet with clients, to speaking engagements, and I occasionally “drop-in” to see clients when we travel for pleasure. I don’t have “free time” and “work time.” I just have time – my time and I own it.

My clients often remark that I’m always available and my family loves having me around (I think).

Bottom Line

The bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Revenue growth has been consistent for the past ten years – the amount of time I’ve been following these guidelines.  I started my own business so I could deliver extraordinary value to my clients, make a great living and live a great life. If your objectives are similar, you need to set up a similar system for blurring the line between work and family.

Balance is a nice idea, but it exists only in the mind of someone who has never experienced either the best of work or home.