Work life balance is one of leader's and managers’ greatest challenges. And trouble with prioritizing between work and private life can lead to stress. Work far too easily bleeds into free time, mails are ticking in, colleagues are calling around the clock and you still have to remember to pick up your daughter from the girl scouts, arrange play dates and a summer party at your children's school.
It is not that odd that many leaders find it difficult to obtain a balance, where they're happy about their work life and their social life.
Often your family life loses the battle. But it does not have to be this way. However this requires that we pour as many resources into planning our private life as we do with our work life. For while most companies have a vision, develop a strategy for how to achieve it and thoroughly consider how resources are best distributed, we all too rarely regard our private life and spare time with the same seriousness.
When did you last sit down and consider what the vision or the goal of your life is? What strategy you need to get there or how to distribute your limited resources, so that you keep moving in the direction you want to go?
If you have not focused on this, according to author and professor at Harvard University Clayton M. Christensen, you are far too easily moving somewhere else. That is why he asks his students at the end of a semester at Harvard, to take the management tools that they've been using during the past semester and use them in their own lives.
Christensen asks the students to consider what their goal really is. According to him far too many students leave Harvard with the idea that money, results and promotions are the main purpose of their career. Which, he claims, all too often leads to miserable lives. So, he asks the students to consider Frederick Herzberg’s theory of motivation, which emphasizes that money doesn't motivate. Instead, it's the opportunity of developing, teaching others, helping others and receiving recognition that makes life worth living. And as a leader, you are in the best position to experience just that – and not least, of helping others experience those things.
So ask yourself: What motivates me? What is the purpose of my life? What can I do to be happy and satisfied with my career? How can your career help you in pursuing the purpose of your life? How do you create a family life full of joy?
Christensen shares how helping others is the fundamental purpose of his life, and that it influences all of his actions and decisions.
When you've figured out what you want to do with your life, you need a strategy and a tactic to actually move in the right direction.
As it is for your company, so it is in your life: "What is invested in, gets done". And then it really doesn't matter which strategy you have. If your company doesn't invest in things that promote the strategy, it will never become a reality. The same thing goes for your life. If you want children with a high amount of self-esteem and self-confidence, then you have to make that a part of your family’s culture, claims Clayton Christensen. Children build self-confidence by doing difficult things and learning what works.
So make sure that you allocate your limited resources to activities which strengthen your purpose. Your vision. Which things do you have to work on in order to make your work life do really well? How much of your time should you, for instance, spend with your partner and family and how do you raise your children so that they become good people?
There are not easy questions he asks his students to consider, but I think he is right when he says that considering these topics helps us create a direction in our lives that, over time, makes us happier than any successful sale or another promotion ever could.
Maybe clear choices in relation to work, family and spare time can even help keep the dreaded stress away from our door?