It sometimes seems like the high achievers in business are superheroes. They have stellar work records, amazing families, healthy bodies and still have time left for charity work. You’re working hard to get ahead, but can’t seem to fit everything in. How are they doing it?
The answer: They probably aren’t, and you shouldn’t either. Even top executives make sacrifices. Instead, examine your work-life balance using this checklist, and take stock of your priorities.
1. Accept that you can’t have it all
Not everything will fit. Career, family, health and hobbies, just to name a few, all compete for your time and your emotional and physical energy. Whether your priority is to focus on your career or to maximize your time with a young family, it is important to make conscious choices about what you need and what will make you happy.
2. Set your boundaries
Clearly set expectations for yourself and others about where and when you will be fully present with your work, your family, your schoolwork, etc. Whether you plan to be home for every family dinner, work out three mornings a week or answer every e-mail within an hour, be gentle but firm in your intentions.
Set your boundaries to maintain momentum and preserve your energy, and be flexible only when you want to be.
3. Build and nurture your support network
Your colleagues, your partner, your parents. Consider how the people in your personal and professional life empower and enable you to meet your goals. Are you asking for help when you need it? Also consider what you contribute to these relationships, and how you plan to maintain them.
Consider “outsourcing” what you can’t prioritize — cleaning the house, mowing the lawn or planning a holiday party.
4. Set goals for yourself, for now and for later
Once you’ve accepted that you have to prioritize, set goals on what you are going to focus on, and when. Examining how you spend your time now — and what you’d like to change — is an invaluable exercise.
5. Plan to reassess and take stock regularly
Bear in mind that what’s important right now (a family situation, a career opportunity, a degree or certification) will evolve over time. No one’s life plan is set in stone forever. You will need to consistently spend time checking in and evaluating your needs.
Take the time to reassess on a regular basis. Whether you do this alone, with a mentor or with a professional coach, make sure that you plan to check in regularly. Take the time to reflect on your progress and to congratulate yourself on what’s working, in addition to changing what isn’t.
Forget about having it all, and focus on having what’s important. When you’re clear on your overall success plan, you will feel a lot closer to achieving balance.
Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 executive coaches in the U.S., having worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Oracle, Google, Amazon, Deloitte, The Ritz-Carlton, Gap and Starbucks. He is the author of 300 articles on leadership and seven books, including “Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level.” More than 10,000 people subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work newsletter. If you sign up, you’ll receive the free e-book “41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!”
If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our daily newsletter on being a better, smarter leader.