The Myth of Work / Life Balance

Solomon and the baby

Drucker said there were two kinds of compromise. The first is the “Would you rather have half a loaf of bread or no bread?” Which doesn’t sound so bad if the alternative is no bread.

The second kind was “Would you rather have half a baby?”, which doesn’t sound so appealing at all.

Trying to compromise on your work life is not a “half a loaf” compromise. You cannot cut yourself in half, and even if you could, there is no way you could ever do it fairly and consistently over time.

When people ask me about achieving work/life balance, and we dig a little deeper (with some active listening and asking questions), what we usually figure out is that there’s a decision that they need to make that they’re avoiding. They say, for example, that their family is more important than work (and really, who would say otherwise?), but looking at their calendar and how they spend their time proves this is a lie.

So try big rocks first instead.  Figure out what is (or what you think is) your highest priority, and schedule that first. Because how you spend your time really shows your priorities.

This means you have to make choices. Sometimes they are hard choices. Sometimes you can’t have it all, or the people you were counting on are letting you down, or something you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into turns out to be a dead end.

You’ll find balance when you are happy with your choices, even if there are some painful changes along the way.

…and if don’t want to make those decisions or changes, that’s a choice too.