Monthly Archives: January 2010

Who Really Thinks About Balance?

I was at the gym today working out and I was enthralled with the Jerry Springer show. Not the actual topic, something along the lines of “my cheating baby daddy”, but the question that popped into my mind – is work life balance an issue for the people on the show?

Are they on stage in the back of their mind thinking about how to fit it all in – how to get the kids to wherever, the presentation done, the house cleaned and the summer vacation plans in action? Please forgive me if that comes across as highbrow or elitist in anyway, that is far from my intention, just stay with me a few more sentences.

I ran 3 miles wondering if the folks on stage dream about having more time to themselves or if people in the audience struggle with trying to fit it all in. Which then lead me to thinking about the home viewing audience as well, and thoughts around what is nagging on their minds that has to be done after the show ends.

My question triggered by the show is pure, who really thinks about work life balance and how do they think about it outside the ivy towers of the corporate world, which admittedly is my main frame of reference with the subject.

I don’t know for sure, but I do know from the workshops that the triggers are different for everyone to bring them to their balance breaking point. So maybe the majority of people don’t frame it the same way as the legions of corporate minions do – but we all want the same things to feel love and happiness and have time to enjoy the things that are important to us.

It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do for a living, how much money you have, your religion, your skin color, your weight, the size of your house or the words used when you’re feeling out of control – we all want balance in some way.

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Simple reminders

The path to balance doest have to be overly complicated – sometimes just a simple reminder is need to check in yourself. A friend of mine sent this to me yesterday – it’s been in her desks for years – very worthwhile to pass along as a small reminder when you’re feeling a bit out of control.

B alance is something you can achieve
A llow others to share the load
L et go of unrealistic expectations
A ct upon your goals and priorities
N o is a word you can learn to say
C ommunicate effectively to strengthen relationships
E xpect and plan for the unexpected

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Linking it all together

For the last year I’ve been working on 2 separate but related projects – both with the goal to empower people to empower themselves.

This project the work life balance project is about planting seeds and encouraging people to look at their values and actions in way that might lead to a more balance lifestyle.

The other project – called Simple Intentions – focuses on empowering people one word at a time when they need a tiny nudge through simple products like bamboo wall tiles and custom t-shirts.

The reality is both projects make up one company focused on – you guessed it – empowerment.

In a separate but related conversation I was talking about what I wanted to accomplish in the next decade. Simply put I want to empower 1 million people to feel empowered. I want to in some way inspire 1 million people to know they are in control every morning when they wake up to choose their life, their mood and how they spend their time. It is that simple – one company – one mission – 3 offerings – wear it, read it or listen to it.

Do you want to be part of the million people that own their life?

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Unhappy and Young at Work

Almost half of all US workers (45 percent) say they are unhappy with their jobs according to new report by the Conference Board that was released today – the lowest number in the 22 years since studying the topic.

For comparison in 1986 61 percent said there were happy in their jobs. Yikes. That is a lot of people walking around unhappy and we learned from Brain Rules and This Emotional Life – you have one brain you take with you everywhere and if almost half of all US workers are unhappy at work – I can only guess how that might carry over at home and school.

Something in the study jumped out at me – workers under 25 have the highest level of dissatisfaction. I wonder if this has always been the case throughout the years as this age group is dealing with the end of a collage party environment and the reality of the real world. Or is this a bigger generational shift that the over stimulated, tech savvy children of over protective parents are cut from a different cloth and might always struggle to adapt to rules and structure inherent in the current corporate America landscape.

Another report on this topic called The Reflexive Generation – Young Professionals Perspectives on Work, Career and Gender talks about how this new generation is constantly reflecting on the relationship between self, work and life with work being characterized by self management and the need for instant gratification and feedback. (Something that might explain the dissatisfaction numbers above – as the current “work world” is not set up to employees instants needs for gratification and the majority of roles for young people I wouldn’t exactly say lend to self managing.)

One can be optimistic that demands of the younger generation at work will help shape a better world of work for everyone. My last thought about the study is what are the other 55 percent doing differently that make them happy at work?

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Emotional Balance

Tonight on PBS there is a 3 part documentary about happiness called This Emotional Life. In the media promotion of the material the concept of emotional balance is discussed, a concept that I feel is an integral part of achieving overall balance between work and the rest of your life.

As Brain Rules author John J. Medina puts it, “You have one brain. The same brain you have at home is the same brain you have at work or school. The stress you are experiencing at home will affect your performance at work, and vice versa.” So it makes absolute sense that your emotional brain impacts every area of your life in the same way a stressed brain does, because it is the same brain.

Sounds so simple, yet you’d be surprised the resistance in the workshops sometimes to this notion. Some people want to believe they are superhuman (or nonhuman) and that they don’t take work home or home to work and they believe they can compartmentalize their feelings and emotions and not have cross-over – like removing a tie of taking of the heels results a magic emotional metamorphosis.

Perhaps work life balance is more an issue of emotion and stress balancing and really isn’t much about working at all. Rather work life balance is about how you interact with the people and events in your life, of which work is a part of. And how you interact with your own emotions and manage stress in and out of work largely determines the level of balance you feel.

I look forward to watching the series to learn more

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