For many employees, work-life balance is a sort of holy grail, an ideal that can be dreamed about but never obtained. Indeed, work-life balance can seem almost fanciful for those who are busy with their careers. For high-performers work-life balance is even harder to obtain. Can you really “balance” work and life, while remaining a high performer? Maybe, but perhaps a most obtainable goal, a “work-life mix”, is a better aim.
Think about your average high-performer. They probably put in hours on the weekend, they study up in their field during “down time” and they are on a constant quest for improvement, if not perfection. This is part-and-parcel of who they are. High performers focus on their goals, and those goals are often big. These aren’t “shoot for the stars and land on the moon” types of people, they’re “shoot for the stars and explore the cosmos” types.
This isn’t bad. Yes, it can be stressful and yes it can take a toll on their personal lives. But would a high performer truly be happy if he or she lost sight and focus on those goals? Probably not. Indeed, they might find themselves less happy and more stressed. This could strain their personal lives even more.
Work Life Mix Or Work Life Blending
Work life mix, or work life blending as it is sometimes called, allows a high performer to maintain focus on their career ambitions. They might spend 70 percent of their time focused on their goals, but they don’t ignore other factors, such as family, either. Instead, they maximize time spent with loved ones and pursuing personal, non-business activities.
When determining your work life blend, it’s important to focus on what’s important for you and your loved ones. Not a fan of bowling league? Drop it. Time wasted is time wasted. Do you like the great outdoors? Consider more trips into nature with your family. That might mean skipping PTA meetings, but if that’s what works for you, then that’s what works for you.
It’s vital to reset goals. A work-life mix enables a high performer to focus on his or her goals while remaining active in their personal lives as well. It’s true, their work and their personal lives will probably never be “balanced” but at the end of the day, that’s an arbitrary goal anyways.
Did Bill Gates build up Microsoft with work-life balance? Nope. He was driven and focus. The same could be said of Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and other tremendous business leaders. At the organizational and team level, your highest fliers are likely just as dedicated as the above even if their name isn’t as well known.
Learn To Adapt
Many people aren’t actually looking for work-life balance either. It’s not fair to push this goal onto them. The human mind is designed to solve problems. This has been an important aspect of human civilization. We humans aren’t the strongest or fastest animals on the planet. Climate-wise, we’re practically hairless primates, and if left to our own physical devices, we’d be limited to warm and temperate climates.
Yet humans aren’t left to their physical capabilities. Indeed, most important capabilities are our mental faculties, and more specifically, our ability to solve problems. When ancient humans wanted to bring down bigger or faster prey, they developed spears, bows, and other tools. When our ancestors moved into colder climates, they created clothing and mastered fire.
Problem solvers today remain focused on the challenges in front of them, developing solutions. Of course, life isn’t only about solving problems. This is where the “mix” comes in. Most high fliers have family, friends, and interests outside of work. In order to lead a fulfilling life, it’s important to mix or blend these elements into their lives.
While personal life and professional life might not be perfectly balanced, that’s not a bad thing. What’s important is finding the mix that works right for you. Perhaps you work hard Monday to Friday, but make sure you have dinner with the family and tuck the kids in bed at night. Come Saturday, maybe you limit your work to some light tasks. On Sunday, maybe you shut down the email and phone and focus on your personal life.
Keep in mind too that life and careers will get exceptionally busy at points. When you have to dedicate yourself to work, make sure you communicate with your loved ones and let them know what’s going on. You probably won’t be able to sustain 100% work mode indefinitely, and indeed if you forget to “mix” things up, it could be bad for your personal health. Over the long run, this could lead to a decrease in productivity.
Work Life Blend is a Better Goal
Ultimately, “work-life balance” is a social construct. It’s an arbitrary goal that we have made up to define what is right. For many people, “work-life balance” is a perfectly reasonable goal to strive for. For high fliers, however, a better goal will be a “work-life blend” that ensures that you take care of yourself and family, while also remaining focused on your career. There’s no shame in being focused on careers.
It’s quite possible that once you achieve your goals, say building up a successful small business, that you’ll want to obtain a more even work-life balance. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this. What’s important is focusing on your needs and ambitions, while remaining conscious of non-work factors, such as your children.
There’s no need to force yourself into a straight jacket, however. Make sure you spend time to reflect on what you want and what’s best for your career, business, and loved ones.
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