“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Dolly Parton
In the leadership programs I conduct for men and women, I’m constantly reminded how difficult it is for today’s professionals to find balance in their lives. Of course, I won’t presume to know how each of you defines “balance” for yourself. You each have the personal agency to decide that for yourselves. But I can share that I’ve witnessed a disturbing trend.
Many of you exhaust yourselves by prioritizing work over nearly everything else. You may do this for many reasons, but most often it occurs because your identities are tied up in your job roles to an extreme degree. Here’s how I know this and what I’ve learned to get past my own (similar) miscasting of priorities.
- You share with me your apprehensions about leaving work, even for only a few hours, to be part of a learning cohort. You admit that you feel this way, even though you know you will learn so many new and wonderful things that ultimately could energize your commitment to do good in the world.
Not taking time to learn and grow means that some of the most life-affirming moments available to you may be lost forever. Why live with that regret?
- You acknowledge that you allow others, often your boss, to dictate how you see yourself. If they don’t give you positive feedback or they promote someone else over you, the lessons you take away are that you aren’t good enough and you’d better work even harder to compensate.
By virtue of the fact that you walk this earth, you are good enough. NO ONE can take that away from you unless you give them the power to do so.
- You tell me you worry that your colleagues will think less of you if you don’t participate in after-hours social activities. You’ve been an outsider before and you don’t want to risk that again so you take on a “never again” stance.
Meaningful connections occur over a long-time and include a mutual commitment to work at understanding what kinds of support each of you need to thrive. Don’t expect people to read your mind. Tell them how you can still be part of the community and be good to yourself, as well as those outside of work who mean the most to you.
Here’s the place where I recommend you start:
Exhaustion doesn’t make us better at work. Instead, it causes us to make mistakes, let things fall through the cracks and lash out at the people we care about (and who don’t deserve it). You set and manage your calendar. Have the courage and conviction to build in the time for a balanced life. Stop making excuses!