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Work Life Balance is How You Define it

JW Way Fundamental #24: Maintain a healthy work life balance 
“Stay happier, healthier and more productive by balancing your time between billable hours, marketing, community activities, family, friends, emotional/spiritual well-being and physical fitness.  The healthier you are, the more you will thrive personally and professionally.”

This JW Way fundamental is intertwined with your definition of success and how that is demonstrated in your work and life values.  It is uniquely individual.   It may be being an awesome parent, being on a non-profit board, advancing your career, writing a book, acquiring knowledge and a myriad of other options.  How you achieve a sustainable work life balance likely is tied to your definition of success!

For Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who both work an incredible amount of time, they may be living a balanced life, for them.  They may survive without ill health and personal lives somewhat intact.   However, they are the anomalies.   For most people working more than 40 or 50 hours per week leads to declined productivity.  And, technology has blurred the lines between working and non-working time making it more difficult to unplug.   The cadence that works for you – how you spend your time, why you spend your time that way, how you define success and what is your life’s purpose is uniquely yours – not what someone else says that is should be.

Balancing your life is self-love.  We have all been on airplanes and heard the flight attendant state “In the case of an emergency, the oxygen masks will drop down from the compartment above your head.  Put the mask on your face before you put it on any child traveling with you”.  Without work/life balance it is difficult to have the reserves – and time – to support and enjoy the company of other people.  And the tapestry of your life will have fewer colors, textures and patterns.   By allowing time for yourself to exercise, read, hike, walk the dog, play with your kids, meditate or go to dinner with friends you are loving yourself.   Without balance, investing in relationships, spending time with friends and family, and personal growth is difficult and may start to be neglected and ignored.  There also can be devastating health impacts.

What an optimal work/life balance is defined as, is not as important as how the balance is defined for you.  Due to circumstances, there are times when all of us will work more than we want to – either at work at in our personal lives.  I have a mental chart of what health work/life balance looks like for me.  When I begin to slip into working too many hours, I am acutely aware of what I need to do – even if it is just for a short time each day – to get closer to balance again.  It is a conscious effort to get back to a better balance. 

Hoping that all of us have a life tapestry that is vibrant, rich, and woven just as you want it to be. 

About the Author:  Brenda Edwards is the Executive Director of Jaburg Wilk.  She frequently writes on law firm management topics.

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