Is work/life balance a myth?
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Posted by: Barbara Francella
Fred Cook, CEO of the international
communications consulting firm Golin, says he never uses an email
autoresponder when he is out of the office. Imagining how many emails he must
get, I asked him why. "I don’t want my people or clients to think I am not
available,” he said. "Because I always am.”
When it comes to work/life balance
strategies, Cook believes "when you are just starting out, the balance is more
on work. As your career progresses, work and life seem to merge
indistinguishably. I work at mixing personal and business. For example, I take
my family with me on business trips, then tack a few days on with them.”
Related: "To get ahead, stop doing and start delegating"
NEW member Kim Feil, CEO of bizHive, believes work/life balance "is hard,
but not a myth.
"In the end, only each of us can take
charge of our time, our boundaries and our personal/professional priorities.
When we accept a senior-level role, we are accepting a certain type of personal
time encroachment, but then we also have to be clear about what we consider
absolutely sacrosanct. I am not the best role model; I truly enjoy my work and
often reflect that there are periods of time when it becomes too
There’s a school of thought that holds
there is no such thing as true work/life balance and the real question is: What do we need to do to maintain personal energy and a sense of personal
What matters most to you? What are you
working to accomplish? What practices and structure do you need in place to
support satisfaction and progress?
To create more of what you want in your
- Review your values. If you’re feeling
empty or like you’re missing out on something, reflect on what it is you value.
Professional accomplishment? Family? List your values. Which aren’t getting
enough attention? What steps can you take to satisfy your need in that area?
For example, if adventure is one of your values, you might schedule a weekend
trip or take a tango class. Being in touch with your values helps you make
sound judgment calls. Their order of importance can change over time.
- Create an extreme self-care list. If you
were taking extremely good care of yourself, what would you be doing on a
regular basis? What would be happening? List and review regularly. One client
realized she wasn’t scheduling enough regular fun and began taking
horseback-riding lessons, which ultimately became a deeply satisfying activity
she shared with family members.
- Articulate your vision. What’s your
vision? What life do you ultimately seek to create? A clear vision is a
powerful focusing tool. Set aside 20 minutes, take some deep breaths and, with
the power of your imagination, see yourself in the future, experiencing deep
satisfaction with your life. What have you accomplished? What’s happening? Note
as much detail as possible. Given your vision, what new actions do you need to
take? What do you need to stop doing?
As Feil notes, it’s up to each of us to
make the choices that produce meaning in our lives. Are you living the life you
Jackie Sloane has been coaching and consulting executives for 20 years. She has
collaborated with leaders to expand influence and executive presence, build
more effective teams, sell initiatives, develop global strategy, advance
culture change and achieve other significant goals at privately held, public
sector and Fortune 300 organizations. A version of this article was first published in Executive
Views expressed in signed blogs
and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and
More Emerging Leader blogs