One of the biggest challenges that the majority of people in the workplace face is how to find their ideal work-life balance.
Our desire to fulfill our potential and beat others in the race for achieving promotion or getting that coveted job role, is hard to balance against our ideals for what we enjoy, want and need to do the rest of the time.
Spending time with friends and family, enjoying sporting and social activities and simply taking time to cook, rest and relax can all be difficult to fit into our fast paced lives.
It’s no surprise that many of those who have achieved outstanding success within their careers are likely to say that they have done so through hard work, dedication and an infallible desire to learn, excel and be the best.
It’s very true that if you really want to achieve something, you need to make it happen, but does there come a time when you are ready for some me-time and work has to take a backseat?
It’s ‘my time’ for Google’s retiring CFO
A recent article in HR Grapevine focused on a heart-felt message delivered by retiring Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette. He explained that the catalyst for his decision was a question from his wife about taking the time for adventures:
“A very early morning last September, after a whole night of climbing, looking at the sunrise on top of Africa – Mt Kilimanjaro. Tamar (my wife) and I were not only enjoying the summit, but on such a clear day, we could see in the distance, the vast plain of the Serengeti at our feet, and with it the calling of all the potential adventures Africa has to offer.”
“And Tamar out of the blue said “Hey, why don’t we just keep on going”. Let’s explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India, it’s just next door, and we’re here already. Then, we keep going; the Himalayas, Everest, go to Bali, the Great Barrier Reef… Antarctica, let’s go see Antarctica!?” Little did she know, she was tempting fate.”
“I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response- I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It’s not time yet, there is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us – Boards, Non Profits, etc. But then she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air.”
Patrick Pichette said he thought about this for several months and then decided that with his three children grown up and after 30 years of constant work it was the right time for a new adventure with his wife.
“In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade offs, especially between business/professional endeavours and family/community. And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful. Carpe Diem.”
… And Google’s new CFO?
It is clear that Patrick Pichette has given everything to achieve his huge success to date, an approach mirrored by his replacement: former Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat. Having been referred to as ‘the most powerful woman on Wall Street’, HR Grapevine reported that Ruth Porat is known as a workaholic, apparently having even made business calls whilst in labour.
The article explained how a recent study conducted at a London Business School event for professional women showed that job satisfaction and power were considered to be more important to female staff than flexibility; 44% wanted job satisfaction, 34% wanted to define the company’s direction and leadership, and just 14% said they wanted a better work-life balance.
So the desire for a better work-life balance is not a priority for everyone. This can of course change depending on what stage you are at within your life and career.
Our top 7 tips for a better work-life balance
If you currently feel overloaded and needed some pointers to reach a better work-life balance, consider our tips below:
1. Write an achievable ‘to do’ list for the day – you can always have a longer ongoing list of less urgent tasks to do if you have any spare time
2. Get up 15-30 minutes earlier than usual – getting ready at a calmer pace with time for breakfast will help to reduce your stress levels before you start the working day
3. Work smarter, not harder
4. Take a break at lunchtime – you are likely to work better in the afternoon if you have had chance to eat and get away from your desk, even if only briefly
5. Prioritise and negotiate achievable timeframes – sometimes we commit to things within a shorter timeframe than necessary putting more pressure on ourselves than needed
6. Minimise working from home – if you need to work from home in your free time, try to keep it to one area of the house so you can close the door on it
7. You are in charge of your own destiny – so you are the person best placed to make the work-life balance you want to achieve a reality
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