The articles on achieving work-life balance continue to grow daily yet few folk seem to be able to actually achieve this.
Personally, I don’t believe in it. I believe in work-life integration as it is all ‘life’ and we put our energies into different parts of it, depending upon the needs of the day. If you want to own your future, you need to use your energies wisely.
The very term work-life balance implies a 50/50 split and so is unrealistic from the start. Life is dynamic; it shifts and changes. It does not fit well into strict boxes but nor does it serve you if it has no strictures placed around it. But if you sacrifice your potential for comfort, particularly when starting out, then you’ve just sold your future.
As entrepreneurs or business owners we often subscribe to the idea of, “Work for a period like no-one will so you can live that life few can.” The issue with this is that the initial period often never has a defined finish – it becomes de rigeur, and the ‘way things are’. An endless series of marathons instead of a set of purposeful sprints.
This marathon mindset can mean either burn out or laziness.
Burn outcomes when the non-work future you envisioned becomes a sacrificial lamb on the altar of ‘making it’. Under the guise of always working to achieve your goals, you’ve just agreed to let your future become someone elses; your clients and customers.
Conversely, the marathon mindset can often be used to justify comfort at the expense of effort. Thinking of your work as a marathon can create an excuse to let up and ease off because there will always be more time to get to the finish line. This is another way to not own your future.
Sprinting (usually in 90-day sets with a break in-between) though requires the ability to set closer goals.
Sprinting requires great effort and hurts. Having an articulated purpose will help you stay on track. But the overarching idea is to get in, do the work in a burst, take a breather and get into the blocks again for the next one.
In this way, you will integrate work and non-work; avoid burn out and take measurable steps towards owning your future. Sprinting means, there are periods of ease in-between those periods of maximal effort. In a sense, you can take some of your retirement as you progress your business and life goals.
It is impossible to be comfortable and own the future you want at the same time.
You need the basic ingredients of determination, skill, a set of clear goals to focus on and grit. And a sense of purpose. Not the woo-woo type that says, “Find your purpose, and you will never have to work again” but the type that acts as the foundation and fuel to drive your work and actions. The type that sits well within your gut and with which you just know is yours to own.
Lastly, you will need to understand that the greatest lessons often become learned at the place of greatest discomfort. You learn by both reflecting and by doing.
So purchase your future by working your rear end off in planned and timed sprints. Find the thing that motivates you (and realise that this will alter as your life progresses) work like a demon in a burst and have faith that today’s efforts will yield results that will either advance or retard your progress towards your goals but will educate you nevertheless, the sprint result.
Sprinting requires an act of optimism; belief that if you sprint if you give your all in a planned manner the benefits will accrue, your knowledge will expand and your future will be yours to own.
Fundamentally life itself is uncertain. John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.” Those folks who plan and sprint are the ones who own their future, however long, despite life’s uncertain nature.
You cannot buy the future you want without doing the work required. But instead of trying for a 50/50 split choose ‘life’ over balance, and sprints over marathons.