I have been a working professional for over 17 years and realized that my sense of the elusive work/life balance has evolved as my priorities have shifted. When I was first out of college, work/life balance meant catching up on sleep during weekends and soaking up every waking hour (work hard, play hard!). Once my jobs got progressively more challenging, staying out late nights when having to lead a training or interview all day wasn't a good idea, even with two Starbucks Venti Lattes. I learned to cut back on my partying to save my energy. I was also getting into my late 20s/early 30s so the work hard/play hard mantra was getting in the way of working and playing with any satisfaction. Now that I'm married and have a daughter, I no longer stay out late (and no, watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report don't count as staying out!). Being a father requires a different level of energy altogether, and so I've had to re-adjust my work/life balance yet again.
So why am I sharing all of this? As a talent professional over the last ten years, I've watched people and organizations either thrive or fall apart because its employees haven't been able to adjust their work and life priorities together. Now that I talk to many candidates for a number of leadership searches, conversations inevitably end up about "What kind of hours do I have to work? How well does that organization prioritize its employees' work/life balance?"
I'm a big believer in shaping your own destiny, so no matter what sector you're in, here are some lessons I've learned over the years to find my center:
1 - There's no such thing as work/life balance! Work and life aren't going to be 50/50 for most of us. Harmony has always made sense to me - think of your work and life like an orchestra with many instruments and many sounds. Ultimately, you want your orchestra to be in sync for YOU.
2 - Schedule your priorities - Google calendar is my best friend! Like a budget reflects fiscal priorities, your calendar should reflect your work and life priorities. I use green for personal time and blue for work time.
3- Meditation - Meditation has allowed me to be more present, so when I'm working or not working, I can fully enjoy what I'm doing. I'm always more focused because there is less clutter in my head. There is so much good research about the benefits of meditation that I won't go into here. I use the app Simply Being on my Android.
I believe these lessons will help you find your center! On that note, I'm off to meditate. Namaste. :)