Finding Work and Life Balance

By | July 28, 2005

Many people see the importance of work life balance, however it is a challenge of implementing a system or getting into habit that let you balance your work and other aspects in life. Is it worth to spend your nights and weekends for your work? What’s the problem? Not enough time, or you are too passionate for your job? Brad Feld had the same problem on having work taking over the life, however he has realized he needed a balance life for his family:

…However, until about five years ago, I had absolutely no balance in my life. I was on the road from Monday to Friday, arriving home exhausted at the end of the day Friday. Amy got “the dregs” over the weekend – I’d sleep a lot, spend time in front of my computer getting caught up on all the crap I didn’t get to during the week, and when we went out, I’d always be tired and withdrawn. The burnout cycle continued; every six months I’d completely crash from the effort (I graphically remember a vacation to Hawaii with friends where I slept 20 hours a day for the first four days – so much that Amy thought something was physically wrong with me.) I drank too much, I struggled with my weight, and I felt physically crappy. I loved my work, but I couldn’t see past it.

At age 34 when – on a long weekend with friends where I was completely absent and struggling to get through a difficult deal (for a company that eventually failed) – Amy turned to me and said “I’m done. I’m not mad – I just can’t do this anymore. You either have to change, or it’s over.”…

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He suggested the following rules for himself, including (1) Spend Time Away, (2) Life Dinner, (3) Segment Space, (4) Be Present, and (5) Meditate.

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Discovering Work Life Balance – [Feld Thoughts]

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Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

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So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

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3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

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For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

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For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

6. Schedule Your To-Dos

Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

7. Use Your Reticular Activating System to Get Your Goal

Learn in this Lifehack’s vlog how you can hack your brain with the Reticular Activation System (RAS) and reach your goal more efficiently:

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8. Review Your Progress

At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

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Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

More Tips for Achieving Goals