The Truth About Work/Life Balance

Work-life balance

Work/life balance is a common goal for many would-be high-performers, but in reality, is just not tenable. Why? Because lack of balance is the human condition; a work/life mix, on the other hand, opens doors to achievement in every facet of life.

Let me offer an example—the story of a recent attendee of the Perfect Life Workshop. His name is Don.

To many, Don is a paragon of success. His company is on the verge of breaking the $1 million mark in revenue; he loves his work; he has time to spend with his wife every week night; and he is making big contributions to his community.

But …

Don is dissatisfied, and many would say it’s because he lacks work/life balance. He recognizes the many tell-tale signs of this seemingly lopsided life: working on Saturday mornings, reading work e-mail in the company of family, taking business calls after five o’clock. In fact, Don was so self-aware, he brought these concerns to me at a recent workshop.

“Craig, can you help me find better work/life balance?” he asked. “I want my brother-in-law to stop nagging me.”

What I said surprised him: “Don, work/life balance is a myth for high performers like you, me, and the readers of the EarlyToRise.com. Balance suggests an equal weighting of all facets of your life. But the fact is, there is no an equal weighting between work and non-work in our daily schedule. There cannot be ‘balance’ given the big goals we want to accomplish.”

SUGGESTED POST: Five Steps to Creating a Balanced Life

The idea of work/life balance has little application for high-achievers, precisely because these individuals are focused instead on clearly defined, shoot-for-the-stars goals. In fact, imbalance is part of our human DNA—a genetic motivation to find solutions and seek out opportunities.

How could Usain Bolt have dominated for 10 years if he had track/life balance? How could Oprah have built her empire or Steve Jobs created the iPhone if they had been intent on creating balance? These icons paid no heed to work/life balance; they simply went after their dreams.

Here’s the truth: If you want to accomplish extraordinary results, your life will naturally be imbalanced. Instead of searching for some mythical equilibrium, strive for the right work/life mix that prioritizes both personal and professional goals.

The quickest way to get started is by picking up The Perfect Day Formula. It’s on me—I just want to propel your success.

And it doesn’t matter what your goals are. You could be a business owner climbing toward $1 billion net worth, an individual striving for a $50,000 salary, or a parent who wants to end work at 3pm every day so you can spend time with your family. The same principles of work/life mix apply.

My friend Sean Stephenson, a certified therapist, motivational speaker, and author of “Get Off Your Butt,” perfectly articulates this vision: “The human mind’s job is not to make you feel good or find balance. It’s to solve problems. That’s why it’s always looking for them.”

When our mind looks for problems, like not having work/life balance, it gives us a feeling of guilt. This feeling wastes our energy. We are all better served by taking the energy wasted on being bothered and putting it into constant improvement. Define your goals. Go after them.

Here’s the truth: If you want to accomplish extraordinary results, your life will naturally be imbalanced. Instead of searching for some mythical equilibrium, strive for the right work/life mix that prioritizes both personal and professional goals.

I like the following quote; it was a favorite of Marty Edelston, the founder of Boardroom Inc., who built a publishing empire through hard work and long hours. She was very happy doing so while also raising a loving family and having an impact on millions of people:

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he is always doing both.”

Bottom line: If you begin feeling guilty because of people’s perceptions of how you live your life—a life that lacks balance—just remember the 3-C Formula that we learned from Epictetus, the master of proper self-perception:

Control what you can.

Cope with what you can’t.

Concentrate on what counts.

Make the right decision, right now, for your right life. Always.