Stop seeking work/life balance


Seek work-life happiness instead.  I had the honor of presenting this topic for discussion at the XY Planning Network conference in Dallas last month.  Shout out to Alan Moore, Michael Kitces and the entire XYPN team for a great “unconferencey” conference!    

As adults, each of us struggles to find that appropriate mix of personal and professional pursuits that brings joy.  If you’re really focused on a work initiative, suddenly you may be blindsided by a personal situation that requires a shift of attention.  Or vice versa: your personal life feels stable but then a client comes to you with an urgent, time-sensitive project.  I’ve dealt with both situations in the last two months and know how tempting it can be to get down in the dumps, feeling like there’s no escape route.

This article titled “Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3” paints a pretty grim picture, too.  The author argues, through Randi Zuckerberg’s 2011 tweet, that an entrepreneur can only have three of these goals.  Yet her message may be universally applied to any adult.

I disagree with the article and think you need a healthy dose of each of the five elements (work, sleep, family, fitness, and friends) to lead a “successful” life.  Sleep, family time, and movement help me stay sane in a very hectic professional environment.  Visits with friends may be less frequent but shouldn’t disappear.  What is your opinion?  Do you agree that working adults can only feel successful in three of these areas? 


Why Balance is Unattainable

Now, let’s turn to another area of contention, summarized below:


In my eyes, this perfect equilibrium just isn’t attainable.

Alain de Botton stated “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”  And I couldn’t agree more. 


Finding Happiness

Happiness should be the goal, not balance.  Within “happiness,” I see two main components: emotional and physical.  Here are some possible emotional fixes:

  • Time blocking

  • Schedule professional and personal activities on the same calendar

  • Clear the physical clutter in your office and home

  • Be emotionally present to others

  • Journaling / gratitude list

  • Daily meditation

  • Therapy

For entrepreneurs in particular, these emotional solutions are worthwhile to explore:

  • Create replicable business processes

  • Outsource your weaknesses

  • Participate in a mastermind and/or study groups

Proposed physical solutions include:

  • Frequent movement (standing desk, anyone?)

  • Quarterly or annual fitness goal

  • Morning routine

  • Monthly chiropractic adjustments or massage

  • Eating healthy foods, not junk

You get the idea.  There are plenty of ways to keep yourself emotionally and physically sustained so you can avoid stress, fatigue, and burnout. 


Let’s Get Personal

What methods have you employed to find work-life happiness?  It’s easy to recognize when we feel off-kilter, like something isn’t quite right.  It’s often harder to remember times when professional and personal worlds are harmonized.  Take a minute and give yourself permission to recall the times you felt “happy.”  Now focus on the most meaningful recollection.  What was different about that situation than the one you’re facing now? 

What is one tangible step you can take today to create more “happy” situations personally and professionally? Please comment below or share this post with others to see their insights.