Thrive Global- What I learned from Talking to People about Achieving Life-Work Balance

Thrive Global- What I learned from Talking to People about Achieving Life-Work Balance

How do we carve out satisfying and meaningful lives outside of work? Here are what I found out from my interactions with a number of people.

by Cornelius Adewale, Writer. Consultant. Entrepreneur. Educator


Achieving life work balance is one of the most daunting challenges of our time. A 2014 study published in the American Sociological Review indicate that 70% of American workers struggle with finding a work-life system that works for them. Poor work-life balance can result in work burnout which is usually associated with fatigue, frustration, chronic stress, loss of motivation, and even reduced productivity.

I recently became more enthralled with questions on how to carve out satisfying and meaningful lives outside of work. In my quest, I had the opportunity to interact and engage a number of friends both in the entrepreneurial and academic world. Below are some of my takeaways.

You Have a Decision to Make

One of my major takeaway from my interactions with people on this subject is the need to decide on what’s most important to you

“You must learn to set your own parameters on what define success for you” said Ramon Van Meer, the CEO of Soap Hub. In my interaction with him, he stressed how important it is to develop a strong sense of who you are, your values and what is most important to you to achieve anything remotely related to life-work balance.

This also reminds me of the story shared by Mark Weinbergerthe Global Chairman and CEO of EY. Following a meeting in China, he was asked if he would be taking selfies with his employees at the Great Wall. He said that wouldn’t be possible because he needed to be back in Washington, DC, the following day to take his daughter on her driving test.

His message resonated with employees. “Afterwards, he got hundreds of emails: Not a single person remembered the terrific speech I gave, but everybody remembered I went home for my daughter,” he tells Time.

Learn to Pace Yourself and Embrace the Journey

Self-awareness is one of the secret sauce to achieving life-work balance. Most times we get carried away by the desire to achieve a goal (or reach a destination) that will forget to embrace the beauty of the journey itself. Having a productive and happy life as well as having a successful career require mastering how to pace yourself. There are times to pace things up and there are times when there is a need to pace things down, it all boils down to self-awareness.

Embrace Your Own Balance

What balance looks like for you might not be the same for me. This is one of things I learned from Roy Trent, the CEO of Trent Real EstateWhen he was sharing the story of how he started his business with me, he said “it is important to know what makes you happy and then strive to get more of it in your life. For some, that might skew towards life and for others it might skew towards work”. Even though Roy spend a bit more time on work he is finding other ways to achieve the balance. “ I often take a 15 minute break and just drive to the beach or the park and just leave my phone in the car to give myself a little break” he said.

Unleash the power of “No”

This seems to be one of the most important skill required to achieve life-work balance. There are many things that want to distract you from achieving whatever you have defined as success. Learning how to respectfully say no to activities that do not directly contribute to your success is a skill you must acquire to have enough time to focus on things that truly bring you joy. You can decline the offer to serve on an extra committee or to run the PTA. It’s ok to be selfish about your “me” time.

Work smart with technologies

One of the benefits of the digital age is the ability to boost work productivity with the aid of technology. We now have technologies like virtual assistant, Calendar App, and many valuable chrome extensions that could help boost productivity in different ways. However, technology should be used in a way that help make life easier, not control it. For many people, this might mean shutting down all form of technology when spending time with friends and families or when focusing on certain work. You can work smart by using technology to your advantage for the purpose of achieving the desired life-work balance.

Learn to communicate
It is important to communicate your plans with appropriate people. For instance, if you won’t be available for certain hours during the day or weekend, let people know. You can even set-up email auto-responder to that effect. By so doing, you are putting up a “Do not disturb” tag and asking for the permission to focus on what truly matters to you, people will respect you for it.

In summary,  have come to understand that achieving life-work balance is not an impossible task. However, for anyone striving for the balance, there are many things to learn and put into action.


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