Most people are prepared to work hard to achieve their goals, especially when faced with impending deadlines or short-term objectives. In many respects, it’s what business is all about these days. The rewards generally more than compensate for the effort, and success frequently brings with it new opportunities or career progression. Any impact on other aspects of life is often temporary, minor enough not to matter or felt to be worth it in terms of what else is gained.
The challenge comes however when the demands start to outweigh the benefits and you find yourself working harder and longer – at some significant personal cost. Whether the need arises from the expectations you set yourself, your company’s culture or your boss, it can be all too easy to find yourself always putting work before everything else. You get into the office that little bit earlier and stay a little later every night to get the job done. You forego trips and events with the family to concentrate on the business. You put your social life on hold so you can devote as much of your time as possible on reaching the deadlines. You bring work home in the evenings so not a minute is lost and you’ll have a clearer day tomorrow. You stop going to the gym, you pull out of your regular exercise class, you give-up your Thursday night 5-aside football to free up those precious couple of hours that might make all the difference. You work harder and harder and harder.
With luck, all of your efforts will be rewarded and you’ll achieve what you set out to achieve. More likely? You will succeed, but you’ll be left wondering whether it was worth it? Will the costs be too high in terms of your health? your relationships? your time? your ability to handle the pressure and the stress?
Creating the work/life balance that works for you ensures you achieve everything that is important to you. Understanding your priorities puts you in control, and means you make the most effective use of your time and take the right decisions and actions. It gives you a means of focusing your energy on what you know is important to you and enables you to manage your commitments. It removes negative stress which threatens to become overwhelming and turns it into renewed passion. It means you get done what needs to be done. It enables you to meet your own and others’ expectations. It allows you to enjoy the benefits of your efforts whilst you’re on the journey, rather than waiting until you’ve arrived.