“There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson, English writer in 1700s
Building your dream business takes a lot of time and energy. And usually a single-minded focus that pushes other activities off the calendar. I completely get it – having been there myself multiple times with startups, my consulting business, and other initiatives.
One of my long-time personal coaching friends calls this focused imbalance. Sometimes our initiatives require an all out effort of focus that leaves our normal routine behind – we work late, start early, skip meals or eat at our desk – so that we create a milestone result. And that result pushes us to a new level that we can recreate balance for.
This kind of sprint – a special kind of sprint that lasts a while and has a different rhythm for our lives – involves an inherent danger of creating a new normal. If you think about the rule of thumb (based on some research) on how long a new habit takes to form, as little as 18 days, we can easily end up accommodating this atypical situation and form new working habits. And frequently we may not even realize it – kind of like the frog in boiling water (it just creeps into our lives).
Added to the habit-forming tendency is the reinforcement we get from our peers through compliments on our accomplishments. That encourages us to continue to pile on the goals and maintain the focused imbalance long beyond a month or so. Perhaps even years.
I’ve fallen into this trap repeatedly and am reaping the rewards of chronic health challenges born from extended self-induced stress to achieve the maximum and move to the next level. My conclusion: IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Life really is too short to maintain imbalanced focus indefinitely in the pursuit of ever-increasing levels of accomplishment.
Accomplishments – incredibly noteworthy accomplishments – can be achieved WHILE maintain a sustainable life balance. So that you can fully enjoy each level you reach, with friends, family, and community support and celebration. With relationships you’ve developed and nurtured while going after the brass ring.
Unfortunately, we don’t hear a lot of accolades from the pop business culture for sustainable balance. Our culture celebrates almost permanent, hard-driving imbalance. And we have all the key performance indicators (KPIs) that go along with – all external measures of achievement: revenues, profits, shipments, active users, customer base, leads, etc. Not many measures of health of the company, personal health, impact to community, or that most precious resource: time.
You can create KPIs to help you keep on track, or to get back on track after a well-defined focused imbalance period of time. One of our lenses, System View of Business, focuses our attention on building a business model that includes your personal definition of balance with KPIs that are unique to you and your business to keep you on track, in addition to the standard parts of your business model. So that you have an integrated model with inclusive measurements that help you build the life you love as well as the business you’re passionate about.
You can also just do this yourself. Here’s a reference to get you started thinking about how to put together KPIs that are more life impactful than just financials.
Bottom line, take charge of your time, energy, and personal resources to create the waves of impact you can make in your personal life along with building your business success.