Reflection Friday: Why do we struggle with work life balance?

Being a husband and father of 4 beautiful kids and many other responsibilities it can feel overwhelmingly obvious that balance is needed. I wrestled for years with what this actually meant as I traveled on business, worked 14 hour days and it felt like I was raising my kids 30 min a day apart from weekends. My wife and I felt like room mates.

That had to change. I read the blog posts, watched the interviews of highly successful professionals, sought council and spoke with others who felt a similar sense of overwhelm and needed shift in priority. 

Millions of employees and business owners are impacted by this seemingly unavoidable conundrum. The lines between work and home are even more blurry as the demands for 24/7 business through technology puts the guilt and pressure on. More and More employees are working remotely. If your work is at home, your laptop on the bed, phone by the nightstand and a tablet in the kitchen you're never disconnected.

The challenge then with the term 'work life balance' is it assumes you're separating the two when for most you're working from home or doing long hour days and if you live in a city like London you're probably travelling for 2 hours a day. Work is simply apart of life.

I believe many struggle with this idea of balance because we haven't determined whats most important to us, what we're willing to do to have it and the creative and most practical ways to achieve it.

To really see change in how I felt and how my family experienced this I needed to challenge my mindset, get clear on my priorities and make a choice on what I was willing to do to have this infamous work life balance. 

In the end I asked myself this question: What would need to be true for my family and I to all feel truly cared for (body, soul and mind) in healthy relationship?

With my wife we wrote everything that would need be true in our actions, decisions, environment, communication and finances.

We checked three categories:

 

  • What could be done in short term (Next 10 days)
  • What could be done in medium term (next 3 months)
  • What could realistically be done in longer term (Next 6-12 months)

Note: This took about a week for us to get this together before we began

 

In the end we had clarity. I don't write this to give you any specific advice but to offer my own thoughts through exploring a range of different tools and approaches we took to ensure my family, health and relationships didn't continue to suffer. It hasn't been easy.

Here are seven actions I had to take gradually over a year to bring what I now call 'values integration' into our family. This has really transformed the way we communicate and work together.

  1. Finding and agreeing what our YES and NO decision criteria is for life with my wife and hanging this up on the wall for us and our kids to see. Helpful Video on a great concept by Brian Tracy called balance point
  2. Renegotiated my agreements with then employer and customers on how and when I work. 
  3. Set times to shut off all technology during the evening for family time (this varies through the week)
  4. Plan an activity every Saturday so I have no room to be distracted by work at all. I'm purposely out or engaged in a specific set of activities with my wife, kids and friends. 
  5. I eat dinner with my family every evening when I'm not travelling. If I am we check in at dinner so I'm present via video.
  6. I get up earlier to reflect, exercise and re-look at my day to ensure the right things are being worked on.
  7. If I'm away for more than a week on business my family comes with me (this one was huge but we made it happen where it was appropriate and we made great memories together).

A question

What are your thoughts on work-life balance and what do you do today?  

If you're a key account manager, consultant or sales leader who recognises the continued importance to master deepening, differentiating and growing your key client relationships. Get connected.

Jermaine Edwards

Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.