It's what so many people strive to reach in their lives, but very few master. One's own personal life and relationships are often sacrificed for career success, and that pattern has to stop.
We as leaders have to set the example of a proper work/life balance and prioritize our team doing the same. If we lead a life of hustle and burnout, our organization will follow and it won't be sustainable. Success requires a work/life balance.
Now more than ever, leaders are feeling fatigued, getting less quality time with loved ones, and struggling to detach from work. They are doing everything they can to keep their business strong, but their personal lives are suffering as a result.
If you aren't sure if you are someone who struggles in this area, ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, you likely need to evaluate how you're doing with work and life balance.
For some, it's not a question of "if" you need a better balance, but more of a question of "why."
You may know for a fact you have a terrible balance, but you aren't aware of what it's costing you, so you lack any urgency to make a change.
The "why" usually revolves around priorities, energy, and fulfillment. Those who are imbalanced because they work too much find that their priorities aren't aligned, they have lower energy, or they aren't experiencing the fulfillment they could have if they were to strive towards better balance.
Though a true life "balance" is a difficult thing to achieve, here are some steps to take to move in a better direction.
If your family, health, and wellbeing are priorities, then your day-to-day life should reflect these beliefs! If your calendar doesn't show that those things are the most important things to you, then you are not living a balanced life.
For example, if a CEO says his family is important yet he works consistently most evenings of the week and even into weekends, then his priorities need to be reevaluated. If this same CEO says he values a healthy lifestyle but doesn't make time for taking care of his physical or mental wellbeing, then again, something isn't right. Either priorities are not accurate OR his schedule needs to shift -- both of which needs evaluated.
Write down your priorities and then weigh them next to your calendar. See what takes up the majority of your time and then make a commitment to shift how you spend your days based on what you consider to be important.
If you find work seeping into your home life, it's probably because you aren't making time to unplug. Do you turn off your phone at a certain time each day? Do you walk away from your computer after work and leave it alone until work starts the next day? If the answer, is "no" then you need to take a step and schedule daily time to unplug from work. This will give you more quality time for your family and for yourself!
Start with one day a week not being on your phone or computer for work-related tasks after 5. It will be a hard shift at first, but it will likely be one that you find you enjoy and then carry this practice into more and more days of the week!
If you find you struggle with the discipline for this, get an app that shuts down the apps you don't want to view after a certain time. A few examples of these apps are Offtime or Flipd. Find one that works for you and put restrictions on your screentime until it becomes a habit.
Some leaders don't have anyone they report to, so they lack accountability. No one is checking in on them and work can easily start melting into every part of their day. If that's you...be sure you put accountability in place where someone is asking you how you're spending your time and encouraging the balance you desire.
Have mentors who share their experiences and how they set boundaries for themselves so that you can follow their example. Surround yourself with people who care about your development and who aren't afraid to hold you accountable to a higher standard.
When you prioritize personal development, it's easier to lead a balanced life because you are aware of who you are and what you need. You create a life that is more productive, more relational, and more fulfilling so that you don't need work to fill a void or to make you feel worthy. That is usually the root of why leaders overwork -- they are seeking fulfillment or greater success.
It's time to realize that you won't be able to find balance by making a better schedule for yourself or just "saying no." It's more than that! You have to be able to separate your mind from work as well! You have to stop making work a part of your identity, and one way to do that is to dive into an identity outside of work.
If you are looking for a way to pour into your personal and professional development, we have you covered in the Talent Magnet Community. For more information, click here. We want to support you with holistic leadership practices that you will find within the membership. We hope you will join us!