I would like to take you back to December 31, 2015. You might have been with friends celebrating the new year, traveling with family, or perhaps curled up with a cup of hot cocoa next to the fire, but wherever you were and whatever you were doing, you had probably been giving some thought to the upcoming year and how it was going to be different than previous years in terms of structure and in terms of protecting your family time.
Fast forward to September 1, 2016; Labor Day weekend and the symbolic end of summer. Take a moment and grade yourself on how well you did with your work-life balance. Did you have rules for protecting your personal time that you enforced? How well did you juggle your personal and professional personas either at the beach or touring a home? Go ahead and give yourself a grade right now. Not sure how? Use my grading matrix below:
- A – Kept working hours and when you were off, you were off. Took a vacation and was fully engaged with family or friends while on that vacation. Only checked email every few days if at all. Had a great summer personally. Was not anxious about business because action was taken to connect with database during working hours and pipeline remained full.
- B – Kept working hours but there were a few after-hours appointments that could not be changed. Took a vacation and was mostly engaged with family while on that vacation. Did check email once a day but only to keep peace of mind. Was worried about business and felt like you might be missing the ball while not working.
- C – Took an after-hours appointment at least twice a week during the summer. Took a vacation and checked email several times per day and fielded a few phone calls. Was worried about business and felt like you were missing the ball while not working, but didn’t have a plan to take action with past clients or with lead generation while you were working.
- D – There was very little structure to your personal and professional life. Your life was just a big “to-do” list that included personal and professional items. You didn’t have time to delegate. No communication or action was taken to connect with past or potential clients. You have no idea who is in your pipeline. If you took a vacation at all, you were a stress case the whole time, worrying about your business or you worked through your vacation carving out an hour or two of enjoyment while congratulating yourself on having a career that you could do from anywhere.
Notice I don’t have an “F” grade. That is because failure implies that improvement is not an option. But improvement is always an option! If you got a C or a D on your work-life balance, congratulations! Improvement is possible!
Unless you got an A, take a look at one step up from the grade you gave yourself and see if you can implement rules right now for getting there. If you got a C, how can you improve your work-life balance muscles and get to a B? Don’t wait until next summer to get there; the time to start improving is now. Can you make some rules around when you are working and when you are off? Can you limit yourself how often you are allowed to break that rule and under what conditions? Can you build at least one three day weekend into your schedule every six weeks and practice being fully engaged during that vacation?
Having rules and the strength to enforce them around your business and personal life doesn’t come easily. You have to practice.
Sometimes you need some help. If you have been struggling with the balance monster for years and are ready to surrender, I invite you to do one thing:
This two-day event that I offer four times per year is a business-changer. We will look at your production, your work pace, rules, and managing your database, potential clients, and lead generation systems so that you can let that stress go while you are away. Really, it is free (or $150 if you want Washington-state clock hours). If you are out-of-town, it is worth the trip. I have two classes booked for this fall and I would love to see you there!