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Last month, work was insane.
I traveled out of town nearly every week. And when I was in the office, I worked some decently late hours.
It was a stressful time for both me and my family.
Thankfully, October is already looking to be a better month so I’ll just chalk it up to the insanity of meeting my year-end sales goals.
I’m happy to say that frantic September is not the norm at my job. My employer challenges me and asks a lot of me, but also gives me the freedom to enjoy other parts of my life.
But that crazy month got me thinking … Do I have a good work-life balance?
What does a good work-life balance really mean anyway?
Satisfaction Over Balance
Serendipitously, a colleague of mine handed me the book Off Balance by Matthew Kelly in the midst of my crazy September.
The book took my questions on work-life balance and shed some light on a different way of thinking. Kelly recommends that instead of striving for work-life balance, we should make changes in our lives to improve our personal and professional satisfaction.
In short, we should be looking for satisfaction not balance.
A true balance of hours between “work” and “life” is extremely difficult if not impossible. Instead Kelly suggests finding true satisfaction in what you deem most important. That starts with prioritizing what is most important in your life.
What are your life priorities?
In the book, Kelly introduced a Priority Exercise that really resonated with me. This exercise helped me define the most important areas of my life and list them out in order of importance.
Kelly asked me to do the following:
1. Create a list of the areas that sum up your life.
Some examples in no particular order are Work, Health, Religion, Family, Finances, Marriage, Children, Extended Family, Hobbies, Travel, Charity, Pokémon Go (not me, my daughter. I swear!) and the list goes on …
2. Cull that list down to 5 of the most important areas in no particular order.
My shorter list became Children, Health, Marriage, Entrepreneurship, and Full-Time Job.
3. Prioritize those 5 areas in order of importance to you.
My prioritized list became Marriage, Children, Health, Full-Time Job and Entrepreneurial
I now use this list to help me make important decisions in my life. For example, if my crazy September was a year-round way of life at work I would seriously consider looking for another job. At a minimum, I would speak to my supervisor about the adverse effects my job was having on my top life priorities of marriage, children and health.
I’m very interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but I will never let that desire compromise my full-time job. This is another example of how my new priority list helps guide me.
How satisfying is your life?
I’ve heard that you can’t fix what you can’t measure. Matthew Kelly agrees.
He outlines another exercise that helps you measure how your current satisfaction level stacks up. It is called the Personal and Professional Satisfaction Assessment.
After going through the assessment, I found overall that I’m a leading a deeply satisfying personal life (nice!) and a moderately satisfying professional life (meh!). So, of course I wanted to improve that “moderate” standing in my professional life. Who wants to be moderate?!
One area I need to improve is my energy level when I come home from work. I often feel tired, lethargic and sometimes bothered by my kids. The common refrain from my 4-year old daughter when I refuse her request for an epic wrestling match after work is “Daddy, you’re always tired!” Ouch baby… ouch.
I want to come home with enough energy to catch up with my wife, play with my kids and help with the evening routine of getting our nutty little ones to bed.
After going through the assessment, I outlined some steps that helped me improve my energy level when coming home from work. Over the past few weeks, I have increased my water intake throughout the day, focused on eating healthier foods and started taking walks during my lunch break. These changes have allowed me to have more energy at work and at home. My kids have noticed too!
I really enjoyed Off Balance. It was a quick read that I was able to consume in a few airplane rides in September and October and it helped me to challenge the “work-life balance” conundrum.
Am I completely satisfied? Nah … I have a long way to go, but this book helped me to really analyze my current situation and prioritize what is most important to me.
If you’re looking to increase your life satisfaction and improve your relationships at work and at home, I’d highly recommend you pick it up.
Well, the plane is about to land … I need to head home and spend some quality time with my top priorities.