The Benefits of Work-Life Balance
Let’s start with why would you want some work-life balance. There are a lot of arguments that people with balanced life don’t get a lot of exciting stuff done, right? It would help if you were unbalanced to get some exciting stuff done. For example, if you’re going to compete in an Ironman, you have to be highly focused, eight hours a day on being an Ironman, or you can’t do it. And I’m going to say yes, maybe. So the idea of balance is not that I’m balanced at all times in my life, but balanced in aggregate. There will be times that I consciously and intentionally go unbalanced for a particular goal. And we do that in business.
Think about it like a radar chart – they’ve got multiple axes. And when zero is at the center and 10, which is good, is at the outside. It’s like a nice circle balanced when you’re in balance. If there is one spiking, that one is out of balance. And it might mean you are ignoring some other things in your life.
So number one is this physical health. You need to spend some time on your physical health. For me, the standard of physical health is I’m physically fit enough to do anything I want to do. I’m not looking to compete in Mr. Universe. I want to be able to do whatever I want to do. That means if I want to climb a mountain, I can do that. If I want to go scuba diving, I want to do that. I don’t want my body to be in the way of doing the things that I want to do now.
We have families, and whether we have kids or not, or we have parents or aunts, uncles, cousins, whatever, these are your closest relationships. Now I know you didn’t have a choice about it. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s bad, but they are blood at some level. And you want to think about what kind of relationship you want with family. But family is one of those groups that’s never going away for you. And so, maintaining those relationships is essential. It’s part of your support. Now, it’s part of your life, like it or not.
The next one is social. And this is different than family. A lot of people do all their socialization with family. I’m going to say that’s not necessarily the healthiest answer. I think you need social interaction outside of your family network. People you hang out with and talk to outside of your business network as well. We get some of that with the CEO peer groups. The people in the groups become friends over time. I talked to one member, and he said that the people in my group are my best friends, which is fantastic. He’s known him for ten-plus years. They know everything about this guy, and they’ve had fun together, and they can tell him anything.
The next one is financial, and this is financial success at some level, but it is almost like the health one, enough financial success that you can do what you want to do. I’d advocate that money equals freedom of action. If you have enough money to have the freedom of action, you want to do what you want to do, and you’ve got enough money. If you’re not meeting your financial goals, it is the number one stressor and reducer of lifespan. And so, it is crucial to hitting your financial goals – whatever those goals might be.
The next one is business. I separate business and financial. They are different, right? How your business environment is set up, how you work in your business environment, the people you have around you, and the robustness of your business model- all of that is separate from how much money I earned. They may correlate at some level, but my financial success may be slightly independent of what’s going on in my business and in the kind of place I want to build. So business and finances are a little bit separate, and part of what we try to work with people on is making a great business.
The next one is civic. I’m going even to expand this to say generosity. And why I say civic versus just charity is because it’s easy to write the check, particularly when we have a level of financial success. Here’s five grand, one grand, whatever your number is, that’s easy. I’m thankful for the nonprofits I’m involved in. When somebody writes a check, I’m a little less impressed than when somebody comes and works. So I think contributing your talents and treasures is that of generosity. And this ties back to an abundant view of the world. Cultivating a generosity of spirit by giving time and money is powerful.
Having a spiritual element in your life is essential to retain balance. I believe it gives you peace and tranquility. And I’m not telling you what that needs to be. Just that little bit of peace where you can take the energy out, reflect, and be, has an incredible power of re-energizing you mentally. Sleep does that at some level, but I think actively going to a spiritual place is also beneficial.
I talked about spirituality as a calm place to let yourself refresh, but I think we can’t forget to recreate or re-create. And really, recreation is re-created yourself. Right? It can be an intellectual hobby stamp, collecting coins, or collecting ultra, like backpacking. You want to be able to immerse yourself in something and not think about anything else. In other words, that experience, that total focus on whatever it is, riding a bike, running, yoga, soccer. And so I think if you’re missing actual vacation, authentic recreation that you get away from it, you know, we all have an immense capacity as CEOs, you are burning your capacity. You may not feel stressed. But you are only losing the power to do whatever you want to do in life.
So that’s the balance. So do the exercise, do the little radar chart of those eight areas. Where am I? Am I a zero? Am I a five? Am I a 10? And then based on that, you can start thinking about, if I’m a three, I’d like to be a seven, how do I get to a seven, what’ll be the first step towards getting to balance.