work life signs

Off-the-Clock Balance

How do we live and work in today’s 24/7, high-tech, global reality? The answer requires new language, beliefs, and skills for taking the lead and finding your unique work+life “fit.”

That’s right, work+life “fit” not balance. If you do only one thing, eliminate balance from your vocabulary. Why? Because it doesn’t exist.

There is no such thing as balance, which for many people means a magical 50-50 split between work and the rest of their lives. The truth is that there are countless work+life fit combinations. Your unique circumstances determine which fit is right for you.

There are endless options between the extremes of all work and no work. Small changes in how, when, and/or where you work can make a big difference. Personal and professional transitions will change your circumstances. For example, six months ago you happily devoted a majority of time to work, but now that you care for your aging mother, you’ve decided not to take on additional responsibilities and work from home two days a week.

Taking advantage of all of the options requires being able to see that they exist. Fruitlessly searching for that elusive balance will show you only what you don’t have (“I’m unbalanced”), not what you could have. Work+life fit is about possibilities; work/life balance is not.

What do you want? If you are like most, you can spend hours talking about what isn’t working in your life; but if someone asks, “What do you want?” you’re speechless. Creating a work+life fit vision requires introspection, self-reflection, and tuning out all of the external “shoulda-coulda-woulda” messages that keep you disconnected from yourself. You need to know where you want to go before you begin.

Create a plan to make that vision a reality. Start by figuring out if your work and/or personal circumstances support your initial vision. If they do, great! Go for it! If they don’t, you either have to change the circumstance or adapt your vision. In the end, you will have a plan that works personally and professionally.

Then say something! When you’ve finalized your mutually beneficial plan, present it to your employer.
“But, what if they say no?” Don’t let these fears keep you stuck. The worst thing that can happen is that they say “no.” You’re no worse off than when you began. Besides, chances are the answer to a well-thought-out plan will be “yes.”

Finally, redefine success. Just as your work+life fit will change countless times over the course of your life, so must your definition of success. Give yourself a break when you need to, and go for it whenever you can! DW

Cali Williams Yost is the president of Work+Life Fit, Inc., which develops innovative and flexibile strategies for individuals and corporations.

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