Balance between work, family and social life

Balance between work, family and social life

By Gene Griessman, PhD


Many of us have an image of personal balance as a scale that balances perfectly every day. But that’s an unrealistic goal. You’re in for a lot of frustration trying to allocate a predetermined portion of time within each day to work, family, and your social life. An illness can disrupt all your plans. A business project may require peaks of intense work followed by troughs of slow time.

Balance requires constant adjustments, like an acrobat on a high wire constantly shifting his weight right and left. By focusing on four main areas of your life – emotional/spiritual needs, relationships, intellectual needs, and physical needs – at work and beyond, you can safely begin walking the tightrope.

Here, drawn from my conversations with many highly successful Americans, are ten ideas for balancing all aspects of your life:

1. Make an appointment with yourself. Get rid of the idea that everyone has priority over you. Don’t just use your calendar or calendar for appointments with others. Give yourself some prime time. Do something you enjoy regularly. It will recharge your batteries. Once you’ve put yourself in your calendar, monitor those appointments. Kay Koplovitz founder of the American cable television network, which is on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Koplovitz ran the network’s day-to-day operations for 21 years. For more than two decades, there was always a potential drain on her time. Therefore, she vigilantly protected a scheduled tennis match, just as she would a business appointment.

2. Take care of your body. Having a high energy level is a trait of many very successful people. Whatever your current energy level, you can increase it by following these steps:

To eat. Don’t skip meals. Your physical and mental energy depend on nutrition. Irregular eating patterns can cause a frayed mood, depression, lack of creativity and a nervous stomach.

Excercise. Time and time again, highly successful people cite the benefit of exercise routines. Johnetta Cole, president of Bennett College for Women and former president of Spelman College, takes a four-mile walk every morning. She calls it her mobile meditation. The benefits of exercise are mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. If you are healthier and have more stamina, you can work better and longer.

Rest. A psychologist who has studied creative people reports that they often rest and sleep a lot.

3. Cut some slack. You don’t have to do everything. Just the right things. Publisher Steve Forbes taught me a lesson: “Don’t be a slave to your inbox. Just because something is there doesn’t mean you have to.” As a result, every night I only pick a few “musts” for the next day from my long to-do list. When I’ve already crossed off all the “shoulds” by three the next day, I know that everything else I do that day will be the icing on the cake. It’s a big psychological plus for me.

There is nothing wrong with pushing yourself hard, disciplining yourself

do what needs to be done if you hold yourself to the highest standards. That builds stamina and turns you into a pro. However, sometimes you have to forgive yourself. You will never become 100 percent efficient, nor should you expect to. After something doesn’t work, ask yourself, “Did I do my best? If you did, accept the outcome. All you can do is do all you can.

4. Blur the boundaries. Some very successful people achieve balance by setting aside time or days for family, recreation, hobbies, or the like. They create boundaries around certain activities and protect them. Other individuals who are just as successful do the exact opposite. They blur the boundaries. Consultant Alan Weiss says, “I work from home. In the afternoons I might be watching my kids play at the pool or out with my wife. On Saturdays, or at 10pm on a weeknight, I might be working. I do things when the mind moves me, and when they are appropriate.’

Some jobs don’t lend themselves to this strategy. But boundaries can blur more often than you might think. One way is to involve people you care about in what you do. For example, many companies encourage employees to bring their spouses to conferences and annual meetings. That is a good idea. When people who mean a lot to you understand what you do, they can share more in your successes and failures. They are also rather a good sounding board for your ideas.

5. Take a break. Many therapists believe that a break from a work routine can have great benefits for mental and physical health. Professional speaker and executive coach Barbara Pagano practices a kind of fast recharge by scheduling a day every few months with no agenda. For her, that means staying in her pajamas, unplugging the phone, watching old movies, or reading a novel in bed. That one day nothing happens except what she decides from hour to hour. Adds singer and composer Billy Joel, “There are times when you have to leave the field fallow.” Joel describes what farmers often do: rest a field so that the soil can replenish itself.

6. Take the road less traveled. Occasionally leave the highway and literally and figuratively take a side road. That road can take you to the library or to the golf course. Do something unusual to avoid the worn grooves of your life. Try a new route to work, a different radio station, or a different cereal. Break out of your old pattern every now and then, with a new way of dressing or another hobby. The road less traveled can be a reward after a demanding event, a carrot you reward yourself with or it can be a good way to loosen up before a big event. Bobby Dodd, the legendary football coach at Georgia Tech, knew the power of this concept. While other coaches had their teams do brutal drills twice a day, Dodd’s team did their drills and drills, but then took time to relax, play touch football, and enjoy the bowl sites. Did the idea work? In six consecutive championships!

7. Be quiet. Susan Taylor, editor-in-chief of Essence, makes sure she has a rest every morning. She considers it a time to center – to be still and listen. She keeps pen and paper with her to jot down ideas that come to her mind. The way you use lonely time should match your values, beliefs, and temperament. Some people spend a set amount of time each day visualizing themselves achieving their goals and dreams. Others read, pray, meditate, do yoga or just contemplate a sunrise or sunset. Whatever form it takes, time spent alone can yield huge rewards. Achievers talk about an inner strength they find and how it helps them put competing demands into perspective. They feel more confident about their choices and are more self-reliant. They discover a sense of balance, a centeredness.

8. Be a patriot in peacetime. Joe Posner has gained wealth and recognition by selling life insurance. Several years ago, Posner helped set up an organization in his hometown of Rochester, NY to prepare underprivileged children for school and life and, he hopes, to break the cycle of poverty. You may find an equally worthy way to give back through your church, hospital, civic club, alumni association, or by doing pro bono work. Or you help individuals privately, even anonymously. There are powerful rewards for balancing personal interests with the needs of the common good. One of the most beautiful is the sheer joy that can come from giving. Another reward is the better world you help create.

9. Do what you love to do. As a boy, Aaron Copeland spent hours listening to his sister practice piano because he loved music. Following that love, he became America’s most famous composer of classical music. When I asked him years later if he was even disappointed by that choice, Copeland replied, “My life has been enchanting.” What a word to sum up a life. In itself, loving what you do does not guarantee success. You have to be good at what you like. But if you love what you do, the time you spend becoming competent is less likely to be boring.

10. Focus on strategy. As important as it is, how to save time to balance your life is not the ultimate question. That question is, “What am I saving time for?” Strategy is about being successful – but being successful at what? When others pay your salary, being strategic generally means convincing them that you are spending your time in a way that benefits them. If there is disagreement about how to use your time, convince the people who can reward or punish you that your idea of ​​using time is appropriate, or find another job. The “for what?” question should also be asked about the life you are living. It really is a comprehensive question and deals with the issue of wholeness.


So what makes for a successful balance life? I can’t think of a better definition than Ralph Waldo Emerson’s:

Laughing often and a lot; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; appreciating beauty, finding the best in others; to leave the world a little better, whether through a healthy child, a piece of garden, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has been breathed easier because I have lived. This worked.