It’s National Work-life Week, so we’re going to share some posts on work-life balance and challenge you to look at the topic from some different perspectives.
First up: the futility of looking elsewhere for solutions.
We’ve all been there…You read the article about another mega-successful billionaire and how their daily routine contributes to their success. It sounds both gruelling, but also somehow attractive. Up at 4am, yoga, then journalling, then strategic planning, time with a mentor and ‘blue sky thinking’ until a macro-biotic lunch while looking out at a lake.
Would it help? You begin to wonder if yet another billionaire’s scheduling habits could give you the work-life balance you’ve always craved.
I’ll be honest, the recent focus on CEO and billionaires’ routines has annoyed me more than it should. For the average person out there, it’s nothing more than a distraction. And while we can all admire someone’s tenacity and drive, we don’t all have their resources, meaning our day dreaming mightn’t translate into helpful action.
“I don’t have a lake, so I can’t do that”. Or even “If I get up at 4am, then I’ll have the work-life balance of a billionaire”.
Let me count the ways it’s unhelpful
Firstly, these case studies of the routines of the rich and famous usually don’t emphasise the downsides of their lifestyles. And you can bet there are some downsides!
Billionaires tend to have a large staff to take care of their life admin. That’s why they can spend hours on ‘blue sky thinking’ and not have to worry about when Tesco is delivering their groceries.
The super-successful have an incredible amount of influence of their own schedule, something the rest of us can only dream of. Try telling your manager you can’t come to the team meeting because you’re heading to the lake for some reflection and see what kind of reaction you get.
Let’s be honest, these are entertainment puff-pieces, nothing more. Read them for fun, but remember you’re not getting the whole picture here.
And it’s not just the billionaires! We can easily fall into the trap of wanting someone else’s life and routine, because we think they’ve ‘cracked it’. Looking at Sharon from the next desk over and wanting her routine is as helpful as looking at Dave from Marketing and wishing you had his abs.
As with most things in life, there are no easy answers (least of all 4am starts!) when it comes to work-life balance. And just like watching swans floating by, we don’t see all the frantic activity under the waterline.
So let’s agree to stop looking at others for our work-life balance cues.
So what’s the alternative?
With my clients and coachees, I advocate a contextual focus – meaning a focus on the here and now and the context in which they’re operating. This means that the solutions, the energy, the impetus for change come from within but are also workable and appropriate for the individual’s real world.
In the next couple of blog posts, I’ll explore why it’s helpful to understand your own limited resources and put them to best use each day. And it’s not just about time management.
I’ll also explain why it’s helpful to understand what’s important to you in life, what you have control over and what you’re prepared to accept and/or sacrifice in order to make the changes you need.
Changes you want to make to improve the interface between your working life and the rest of your life need to start from within.
Want to learn more?
We discussed the topic of work-life balance on our podcast, back in episode 005. You can listen in below. And if you’re not a regular listener, remember you can subscribe to ‘My Pocket Psych’ via all the major podcast platforms, including iTunes, Google and Spotify.