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Savage, MN 55378


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Work Life Balance:  Capturing the Best of Both

By Scott Morrell

I hear many people talk about Work-Life Balance these days. There is a clear erosion of the boundary between work time and personal time. Smart phones have seemed to accelerate this blurring of what was once considered a healthy boundary.  Have you felt the following sentiments?

  • It seems my work interferes with my ability to be fully present at home.
  • I miss opportunities on making a difference in my professional life. I don’t network as I should.
  • I carry some guilt that I’m not a better parent, spouse or friend. My job disrupts the quality time I seek.
  • How can I do both work and home better?

It hasn't always been this way for the working professional/parent. So what’s the deal? What are we really trying to accomplish as individuals and employees? Can we really do both? Can we be an effective professional and engaged person outside our work?

    Replace Balance

    The error in our thinking with Work-Life Balance is the word “balance.” We struggle to assume a 50:50 split of our time and attention is possible. We also fall into a trap when we consider the “balance” to be an either/or proposition. That is, either I spend more time with My Personal Life OR I spend more time with My Work Life. Eliminating the "or" is the key and substituting with another conjunction.


    Think of this dynamic of My Work AND My Personal Life as being interdependent on one another. Most people cannot have one without the other. Work and Life are interdependent for their existence. The reason we are stuck in the cycle of the Work-Life Balance equation is our lens is based on balancing rather than leveraging. This is the key!

    Think Leverage Both

    These inter-dependencies, Work and Personal Life, can be leveraged, not balanced, for a greater purpose. For the sake of argument, let us define a purpose statement; I want to achieve a “Thriving Work and Home Life”.  First, identify 4-5 tangible action steps that are measurable for your Work Life and 4-5 tangible action steps that are measurable for your Personal Life. These action steps should maintain the positive elements of both Work and Personal Life.  


    Action Steps: Work Life

    1. I will sign up and complete one professional development course in the next 60 days.

    2. Contract with my boss that I have the resources I need to complete the job asked of me.

    Action Steps: Personal Life

    1. Sign up for those piano lessons I have delayed for 5 years.

    2. Schedule 2 family vacations; spring and fall 2014.

    Concentrating on the action steps alone will not assure you that you have a “Thriving Work and Home Life.”  There's more to it.  Next, identify early warning signs that you are over emphasizing one at the neglect of the other. The early warning signs should be measurable indicators that you are sinking into the downside of Work (e.g. feeling consumed with work) or drifting into the downside of Life (e.g. feeling you are losing out professionally).


    Early Warnings: Work Life

    1. I feel like I am just going through the motions at work.  My attention drifts half the day.

    2. I am not volunteering to join new project teams when I have the opportunity.

    Early Warnings: Personal Life

    1. My family complains that I am never home from work in time for dinner.

    2. I miss more than two community board meetings in any one quarter.

    An Actionable Road Map

    Consider that there is an active energy system in all humans that constantly pushes and pulls us from these valuable tensions (i.e. Work and Life). When we use the lens of either/or problem solving we get trapped. There is another way. If we use the lens of both/and while mapping action steps and early warning signs will be leverage for maximum results. We are more likely to achieve the “Thriving Work and Home Life” we seek.


    Stone Arch Organization Development has an innovative tool, Polarity Assessment for Continuity and Transformation (PACT) ™, available to help with mapping your Work and Life realities.