By August 16, 2012 Read More →

Work-Life Balance is Hot

Work-Life Balance is Hot

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Work life balance is hot.  In fact, I almost called this post Work-Life Balance Revisited, or Work-Life Balance 2.0, or The New Work-Life Balance.

As I’ve been training more people and teams in Agile Results, one thing I’ve learned is that work-life balance is a bigger deal than I originally thought.  Specifically, it is top of mind for many executives as well as employees at all levels.  Employers want happy, engaged workers, and people are being asked to do more with less, and their life is changing under their feet.  And, when work-life balance is out of whack, your personal life suffers, your work suffers, you suffer.  On the flip side …

When you align your work with your life, a lot of things fall into place.

When you achieve work-life balance, you hit your high notes.  You operate at another level.  You make your soul sing.

And the good news is, this post will really give you an instant way to improve your engagement at work, find your flow, drive more impact, expand your capabilities, and grow in new ways that give you the edge in work and life.

The Beauty of Work-Life Balance

When you have work-life balance, you are engaged.  You are engaged in work, and you are engaged in life.  You grow stronger in your strengths, while expanding yourself as a person.  You grow your greatness by expanding your capabilities and learning how to take on new challenges, while learning new skills and abilities.  Best of all, you create compelling experiences for life, and you lift those around you, by sharing your gifts with the world … doing what you do best.  And that, my friends, is being uniquely you (nobody does a better job of that, than you.)

Work-Life Balance is the Art of Blending

It’s blending over forking.

The key to work-life balance is that rather than forking your focus, or having a conflict of values, you blend.  You bake your values into why you do things, and how you do things.  It’s passion and purpose in action.

Before we get into how to master work-life balance, let’s first take a deeper look at what work-life balance really is.  What is work-life balance really all about?  It’s about investing your time, energy, and focus in the important things in your life, and not letting one aspect of your life, dominate you.  You know what they say, “all work and no play …”  The problem is just spending more or less time in work, doesn’t create work-life balance.  It can help.  But it’s not the real secret.

The real secret is breathing more life into work.

So how do you breathe more life into work?

Breathing More “Life” into Work

You need a new lens.  You need to make your work, your personal dojo for personal growth.  When you do this, you transform your work arena into an entirely different experience.  Work becomes your place of ultimate self-expression.

Imagine what happens when every day is a new chance to master your craft.  Imagine what happens when you start to learn from everyone all around you.  Imagine what happens when every situation is either a learning opportunity, or a leadership moment.  First and foremost, every opportunity becomes a chance for you to shine from the inside out, when you demonstrate your ability to rise above any situation, or lean in, dig your heels in, and push to find your breakthroughs.  Each day takes on new meaning, when it’s a new opportunity to serve the people around you, your clients, or your customers in new and fulfilling ways.

It doesn’t matter whether you work for yourself or others.  I’m referring to work as whatever it is that you do for a living.

But how else do we transform the work experience and find work-life balance?  How else do we align work with life to enjoy the journey and the destination?   When I teach Agile Results, I don’t reveal tricks, I reveal truths … time-tested principles and patterns that work.  So what works?  Living your values, driving from your lifestyle, and giving your best where you have your best to give.  When you know your values, you can connect your work to your values.  For example, I don’t drive projects.  I lead epic adventures.  I don’t call back a customer.  I win a raving fan.  I don’t crank out a vision scope.  I learn new and better ways to master my craft.  I don’t solve problems.  I take on challenges and expand what I’m capable of.

Yeah, O.K.  But is there a better way to use our time, energy, and focus at work, so we can do more at work in less time, and actually have more time for the rest of our life?  Yes.  Let’s take a look …

The Secret of Work-Life Balance

It’s about flowing value and focusing on the essential things that matter, using the 80/20 rule.  It’s about playing to your strengths, teaming up to achieve more, and hitting more windows of opportunity.  It’s about lighting a fire so you can blaze a trail through your workload, break through barriers, and jump any hurdles that stand before you.

It’s about thinking in threes:  three wins for the day, three wins for the week, three wins for the month, three wins for the year.  It’s about adding Power Hours to your week so you can whip out more achievements in less time, with greater ease.  It’s about adding more Creative Hours to your week so you can find and flow more creative solutions, invent your next best thing, and unleash the productive artist in you.   It’s about recharging and renewing with skill.  It’s about putting science on your side, including the best learnings from positive psychology and sports psychology to unleash your best performance.  It’s about using proven practices for motivation, directing your focus with skill, prioritizing with decisive action, and making your moments count.

And, for the softer side, it’s an East meets West blend, where you will do less, achieve more, and enjoy more effortless ways of producing outstanding results.

Find Your Mojo, and Get Your Groove On

If you want to master work-life balance, then explore 30 Days of Getting Results (free self-paced work-life balance training),  get You 2.0 (A free-guide on a quick way to build a firm foundation from your purpose, passion, and strengths), and get the book, Getting Results the Agile Way (the book that introduces the Agile Results system for work-life balance).

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10 Comments on "Work-Life Balance is Hot"

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  1. Alik Levin says:

    JD,
    Nicely put – “thinking in threes.”
    I was thinking very firmly in threes until after I switched roles recently. But now two weeks into it, i start to realize how powerful thinking in threes is. First weeks are usually a mess, but i start to see the light in the tunnel. I start to see major workstreams that would allow me to model what’s essential and what’s not. Think in threes! Nice!

  2. JD says:

    @ Alik — That’s a perfect example.

    It’s easy to get lost in the scramble. Thinking in three wins helps us rise above the noise, and place better bets. The best part is that if we bet wrong, we learn fast, because we actually aimed for something.

    The key learning questions become:
    - lack of clarity, lack of precision?
    - choosing the wrong stuff?
    - biting off too much?
    - biting off too little?
    - don’t know my capability?
    - get randomized too much?
    - trading off the wrong things?
    - things aren’t valued the way I think they are?
    … etc.

  3. Kimbundance says:

    I always resonted best with “thinking in threes” Feels like that is the magic number to balance it all out. I like the idea of “power hours” a phrase that can compliment that is. “simple cations equal great success” So when we break it down the to-list into chunks we get further ahead in the long run.

  4. JD says:

    @ Kimbundance — Yes, three is the magic number.

    Our brains are good at thinking in threes. Marketing knows that and has used it for years. And we all know stories of threes, like the three little pigs, the three blind mice, etc.

    It forces us to take things up a level and simplify as well. It’s a simple way to take the balcony view so we don’t get lost in our own weeds.

  5. Evan says:

    Hi JD, I wish someone would come up with a new term for this. What gets balanced against life exactly? Anyway that isn’t about your post just the term we use.

    I do think the advice you give is very helpful.

  6. Evelyn Lim says:

    You said, “You need to make your work, your personal dojo for personal growth. When you do this, you transform your work arena into an entirely different experience. Work becomes your place of ultimate self-expression.” Exactly! It is my experience. And I find that I am living life a lot happier. There is always a ton of things to do for work but because I already know what my values are, I am more productive – and fulfilled.

  7. JD says:

    @ Evan — If I were to rename it, I’d go with what my colleague focuses on, “Passion Work.”

    I think the heart of it comes down to alignment of priorities, and the balance is how you deal with the conflict. The trick is to remove as much conflict as possible, find creative ways to invest in your values, and ultimately to put up boundaries that serve you. Time and again, it’s when people don’t establish or respect their own boundaries that they fall down.

    @ Evelyn — It sounds like you have found the sweet spot and are living it. The beauty is, even if you get off track, the point is that you know your personal path.

    The other key is knowing and embracing that our personal path doesn’t mean it’s an easy path. Instead, it’s a path of personal growth, and it comes with challenges. When we embrace those challenges, we expand ourselves. The part that truly keeps us centered is our strategy — our personal vision, mission, values, and playing to our strengths.

  8. J.D., this is an extremely powerful post. It resonates!

    For example, “When you align your work with your life, a lot of things fall into place.” I can validate just how true this is. Like Alik, I too recently changed roles. One of the primary reasons for doing so was seizing the balance which had for so long eluded me. And it’s working! For the first time in my geekly career I’ve found that balance. It’s liberating. I *am* hitting my “high notes”. I am starting to “operate at another level”. And yes, I can hear my “soul sing”–or at least start to warm up off stage as my life is falling into alignment.

    And this is a big part of it: “The real secret is breathing more life into work.” Because I have more time to do the things I love, I’m honing my skill set in ways I’ve been unable for years to do. My passion for my work is coming alive before my very eyes.

    It’s an exciting time to be me!

  9. JD says:

    @ Jimmy — Now that is poetry in motion.

    It sounds like your new role is the perfect crescendo of a lot of things coming together.

  10. Tobin says:

    I think the feedback I gave on this a while back was that the person without focused life goals has a tendency to let work take over parts of their personal life. The best way to combat this is to let personal life take over your work. Passionate about something in life? Find a way to bring that part of your life into your projects at work. I love being creative. I went to school for graphic design, not software development. So I found my way into a job where I could use both my analytical skills and my creative skills at work. I’ve found that my satisfaction at work and with life have increased exponentially after doing this. It doesn’t hurt to have a manager that allows you to find ways to do this too.