For all the years that I taught work-life balance to leaders, I had convinced myself it was mostly a matter of setting priorities, establishing boundaries, and managing your time. That is, until one day a young man asked me a question I couldn’t answer. He said, “I’m not totally comfortable with what you suggest. I’m single, so I have no one waiting for me at home. On the other hand, I love my job. So much so, in fact, that I often lose track of time and end up working 10-12 hours a day. Are you saying I shouldn’t do that?”
That was the day I got a whole new perspective on balance. That was the day I realized that balance was not about watching the clock. Balance is about being aware of your energy, and choosing the things that maximize it.
As you go through your day, you will find that there are things that energize you – a productive meeting, playing with your children, finding the solution to a problem, or spending time outdoors. The things that energize you may be large (a promotion) or small (a good cup of coffee). It is up to you to be aware of the things that energize you.
During the day you will also discover there are things that drain your energy – an argument with your spouse, a work assignment that you hate, or an unfortunate “surprise” (like a flat tire). It is also important to know that even really good things can drain your energy. No matter how much you love your job, after 10 or 12 hours, you are bound to feel tired!
Instead of managing your time and blocking off your calendar, consider these tips for having more balance in your life.
1. Expand your awareness – notice the things that charge you up and the things that drain your energy. In fact, make a list of both the energy drains and the energy boosters.
2. Explore your energy drains – Are there things on your energy drains list that you can eliminate? This could be minor annoyances (like delegating a task or asking for help). This step might also bring on major changes. If everything you do at work drains you, it might be time for a new job. If someone in your life is constantly draining you, it may be time to end that relationship.
3. Maximize your energy boosters – Do you need a quick nap? Perhaps a walk outside will pep you up. If your energy is really depleted, you might even need a vacation! Do you feel more energized listening to music while you work? Notice what makes you feel energized and do more of that.
4. Balance the flow of energy – Once you know what drains you and what lifts you, pay attention to where you are at any given time. If you need a boost, take a few minutes to do something that will power you up. If your energy is high, consider that this may be a good time to take on a difficult task!
Learn to look at balance in a whole new way. Stop thinking in terms of how much time you spend in specific areas of your life. You will feel more balanced when you learn to manage your energy. Eliminate or manage the drains and maximize the energy boosters!
Next month, let’s talk about loyalty and the heart-based leader. Until then, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share new tips and ideas on heart-based leadership. If you have specific questions or topics you would like me to address I would love to hear from you! I would also love to have you join the discussion with me on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/LeadershipAndLove