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May 182010
Get the Balance Right

Image by Marquette La via Flickr

    Are you struggling to balance the demands of a busy career with a hectic personal life? Does it feel like you’re constantly juggling your commitments in a desperate attempt to squeeze everything into an impossibly short day?

    If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Trying to find the perfect work-life balance is something that countless employees around the world wrestle with every day… but for many it simply isn’t working.

    The concept of work-life balance first entered the recruitment lexicon in the 1970s in an attempt to describe the issues faced by employees looking to divide their attention between their work commitments and their personal life. It’s since gained popularity among industry commentators, recruitment and careers experts, employees, and most recently with employers, who have started to view the panacea of work-life balance as a magic-bullet solution to employee dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and boosting productivity in the workplace.

    One of the main reasons that work-life-balance has become such a buzzword is that it resonates with so many people. Almost all of us know that overwhelming feeling of desperately trying to divide our finite attention between all of the things that matter to us. But although the work-life-balance concept has been around for nearly four decades, many of us are still struggling to manage our disparate commitments effectively; we fail in our quest for "balance", and ultimately everything suffers.

    According to business and lifestyle coach Ali Davies ( the main reason so many of us haven’t nailed the work-life balance conundrum is that the whole concept is fundamentally flawed.

    "The problem is what we are focussing on – balancing work with life," said Ali. "The two aren’t separate things. There is only one thing: your life. Everything else is a label for an activity you are doing within your life."

    Ali argues that instead of seeing work and life as two separate entities, and struggling to achieve balance between them, it makes much more sense to view everything in our lives as one. By focussing on what we really want, and treating everything as part of a coherent whole, we can manage our attention much more effectively.

    "Stop focussing on work life balance. Instead, make a decision right now that you are going to build the life you really want for yourself and your family," she advises.

    Here are Ali’s top tips for doing just that:

    • Make sure you have a crystal clear picture of what your ideal life would look like. Define what constitutes a successful life for you including all aspects of your life as one.

    • Is that worth fighting for? If so, start thinking "designing life" NOT balancing life.

    • What would need to happen for your ideal to become a reality?

    • Don’t wait, start now – even if you don’t know how you will make it all happen. Think baby steps.

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