Work/Life Balance: What the hell is that and is it possible?

By: Ed Kennedy

You are working too many hours….now that may not be true for everyone reading this blog but the chances are I am talking about you.  People tend get their identity from their job and are passionate about their industry/team/role,  but it is likely you care more about your family/friends/colleagues than your job.  Big problem is that most people spend more time with their colleagues and away from their family than they do with their ‘actual’ family.  We constantly make the choice to spend extra time finishing an extra assignment or task without realizing the cost of putting in the extra effort.

Businesses have always tried to get the most out of their employees.  They are not cynical….most managers are good & care about their employees while trying to grow their skill sets.  Most good managers will promote their “A” players and identify what motivates their top talent.  There is a misconception out there that if a person is looking for a good work life balance they are not career driven and could not be considered a star due to their perceived lack on drive.   That is patently not true…some  of the best people in your organization have outside interest that are more important than the bottom line.  There are opportunities for all but make sure your goals are aligned to your organizations values.

Let’s say you have a job where you are working 50 hours and are working 10 extra hours a week to ‘help the team’ or  because ‘that’s what it takes’.  That 10 extra hours every week over a year would be the equivalent to working 10 extra 40 hour weeks….kind of sickening right?  Some companies and roles require working longer hours  which is fine, but understand what that means in terms of work/life.  Are you willing to trade the equivalent of 10 extra weeks of your life for another 5-10% more  in salary or getting that promotion  a year earlier?  Some people love their jobs, but is it worth not spending the extra 10 weeks a year that you could be spending with your friends, family, and/or hobbies? 

Again I understand people have jobs that require them to work over the normal 40 hours every week.  I would ask them to sit down and count how many ‘extra’ hours they are putting in and ask the question if it is worth it to them.   Personally, I work over 40 hours consistently and there are sometimes where I need to step back to see if I can be working ‘smarter’.  Often times the extra hours are required due to something I could have accomplished if I had been more organized earlier in the  week or the previous week.  I am constantly looking for ways to improve, but sometimes forget how all of the extra hours at the office impact other areas of my life. 

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