Correcting your work/life imbalance: Top tips

by NZ Lawyer26 Mar 2014
Are you desperately trying but ultimately failing to keep your work hours under control? You’re not alone, says career coach Bob Epperly. He realised at 55 years old even a very successful career cannot fulfill every aspect of life.

Epperly worked in management at Exxon Research and Engineering Co. for more than 20 years, finally becoming a general manager, and later was a senior executive in two start-up companies. During his time at one of the start-ups, he felt he could never do or achieve enough.

For those lucky enough to have decent employment, many feel insecure and are willing to skew their work-life balance into a tailspin, with exaggerated emphasis on their career, says Epperly.

“Most people cannot afford to simply refuse the demands of their job, so what’s a worker to do?”

Here are his tips for correcting lifestyle imbalance:

It’s never enough: Ambition is admirable, but if it’s all that drives you, no matter how much you accomplish, it will never be enough. If professional ambition is more important to you than anything else in your life, that’s a red flag that your life is dangerously unbalanced. The consequences will be painful feelings of emptiness, lack of fulfilment, and having missed out. Take steps now to restore balance, beginning with personal, non-work relationships.

No one ever says, at the end of their life, that they should have worked longer and spent less time with family: When it’s all said and done, life is short, and many realise that time is life’s most precious resource. Intense focus on work tends to deprive professionals of opportunities with their loved ones – moments and memories that cannot be replaced. Set goals for how much time you’ll spend giving your family 100% of your attention each day and week, and stick to them!
Make communication a top priority: The importance and value of real communication cannot be overemphasised. “More important than speaking is listening,” Epperly says. “My relationships immediately improved when I began listening very carefully to what was being said.”

Only you are responsible for your life: Epperly says that recognising he is responsible for his life and focusing on the aspects of it over which he has influence while recognising those he needs to let go has been pivotal.
Accept who you are: This can be challenging; it demands courageous self-reflection and letting go of the need for external approval. “When a friend asked me: ‘Do you think the world is ready to accept Bob Epperly just as he is?’ I suddenly saw that I had always felt I had to accommodate; that I wasn’t okay as I am,” he says. “I started to give myself permission to be me.”