Guest post by Michael Van Osch from thinktankmen.com
Interesting conversation with a man in the financial services field recently. I asked him how his life was going and his reply was, “If I could just get some work-life balance, then I think I could be happy.”
Hmm. Well you can’t say that to a coach and not expect some probing – so I said, “Really? How so?” In a nutshell he told me his story – that he worked very hard to make money to provide for his family but felt like he never had much time and energy for them and certainly didn’t enjoy life very much. He didn’t really like what he did for a living and only went into it in the first place because he heard the money was good. At this point he pretty much dreads Sunday nights and Monday mornings, but feels locked into it because he’d been doing it for over fifteen years and has a lot ‘invested’.
Sound familiar? If it does, know that you’re not alone. Many men out there are in the very same place. And this man’s comment about work-life balance is very typical. We’ve all been led to believe that somehow this magic concept of ‘balancing everything out’ is the silver bullet. But what no one tells you is that if you hate your job, are in the wrong field for you or are simply burnt out, then striving for some mythical balance is not the answer at all.
Think about this…of all the people in your life, including yourself, who are the ones that complain about lack of work-life balance? Are they the ones who love what they do for a living and get energy from it? Or are they the ones who hate, or are uninspired, by what they do everyday? For the folks I know, it’s always the latter group who are struggling, burnt out and complaining (and I used to be the number one complainer!).
So why is this?
A very simple reason. We’ve been taught to focus on the wrong thing. Work-life balance is a false concept in this case. Taking care to divide up your time and put it into separate and somewhat equal buckets is a ridiculous notion that we’ve all been sold on – and it’s not accurate. Even if our financial services guy was able to do this, he still wouldn’t be happy because he’d still be in the same mismatched career that drains him of all his energy and power. The real answer comes down to a fully different concept – Alignment.
The answer to the happiness that our man is looking for will come from aligning what he does everyday more closely with “who” he really is – his real strengths, interests and motivations. And interestingly enough, the men I work with who’ve done this end up making more money with less strained ‘effort’. We like that!
When I told this man that his natural talents, preferences and skills were there for a reason, i.e. to use them, he gave me a very unbelieving look, like I was crazy or something. And isn’t that typical of how so many of us have been brainwashed…to ignore what we’d naturally like to do and would be good at?
Guess what? You are supposed to honor who you really are, that’s why you were made that way. And what’s really amazing is that once you start following that, real prosperity and happiness starts flowing. Now a coaching client, this man realized life was too short to screw around any longer and is excited, for the first time in a long time, to making some real and lasting change.
Stay tuned for more on how to solve this thing we call Work-Life Balance and what the real issue is.