Work/life success is a very personal definition. We each have our unique needs and demands when it comes to what we want out of our personal lives and what we want out of our professional lives, and this changes and evolves over time. Here's a real-life example. My coaching client Nikki shared with me the story of her return from maternity leave. She was very clear with her boss about her return date (six month's leave) and that she had sorted out the home logistics together with her husband.
The plan was for Nikki to arrive early at work while her husband dropped off their son at nursery. Nikki would then be in charge of pick-up. This schedule would enable her to continue working full time, which was her desired goal. Upon her return, Nikki's boss announced “Nikki, I've got great news for you. I've organised a job share for you. You only need to work three days a week.” While many men and women would jump at the chance of having a three-day-a-week professional role in a prestigious international company, this wasn't right for Nikki.
One of the key myths to bust when it comes to work/life integration is that the longer and harder you work, the more productive you become. Ever heard of the efficiency curve? There is definitely a relationship between long hours hard at work and productivity, but we all reach a point where we flat line or even plummet into inefficiency.
That is the time to take a break and switch to a new environment. If you're working, it's time to re-energise by spending personal time. If you're home, it's time to switch back into the stimulating, intellectual and social environment that our careers provide. After the two-week summer holiday with our two young children and my in-laws, I was always keen to get back to the office! In this way work and life are a complete complementary pair.
The objective therefore is to be at your best, whether that be at home or at work. Being at your best empowers you to be better at
Innovating and being creative
Being at your best puts you in the best position to help others – friends, family, clients, colleagues and your community. There's no need to feel guilty about 'putting your oxygen mask on first'. Like on an airplane, this is what enables you to help others.
The objective isn't doing it all, whether that be at home or at work. Think strategically. The objective is to position yourself in way that maximises the impact you want to have at home and at work. Reaching this point will certainly require you to think about what you are going to STOP doing Time is finite.
Think about your priorities (again, in both settings). We are not super heroes. We have to be discerning about how we're spending our time so that the things we care about the most are getting the right level of focus and attention.
Your kind of success, therefore, is how YOU uniquely define the impact you want to have on others in your personal life and in your professional life.