Get a better work/life balance

By John Greenway

"How can I get a better Work/Life balance?" That question was posed to me recently as I was coming to the end of a coaching session with a senior executive.

Trying to balance life and work priorities is something that we all face. But is it the right question? Are “work” and “life” on the opposing scales, competing against each other? It can certainly feel like that at times. Perhaps it is better to view it as “Life Balance”, rather than “Work/Life Balance”, as work is part of life, rather than in opposition to life. Why not look at all the segments of your life – relationships, family, health, recreation, work etc – as a whole?

This would certainly give you a fresh and more rounded perspective. It would help you set some goals, make plans and take actions in a more holistic way. But is this just simply a smarter, more elegant way of segmenting how to prioritise and spend your time? Is there an even better way?

Why don’t you first check your life direction – am I actually heading where I want to go? With this in mind, you can then more easily clarify what you value most and what you most want to achieve along the way.

With these coordinates in place, the Life Balance questions will really begin to make sense to you ... and your responses may be different from those you first imagined! C S Lewis said

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

To help you we have devised 15 challenging, but essential questions for you to address. They are all set within The Life Direction Wheel. The Life Direction Wheel is structured so that you can see how the key segments of your life should fit around and be aligned with your core vision, values and goals. It is designed to help you crystallise and articulate your choices and intentions in the three aspects of your life:

  1. Your private life is about you and includes your character and spiritual life. It covers what you want to achieve and learn and what resources you want to build up.
  2. Your public life is about family, friendships, community and the wider world.
  3. Your professional life comprises your job, your development, your career and what you want to pass on to others.

Use The Life Direction Wheel and the following questionnaire to help you think through what you want in each dimension of your life. I strongly suggest that you write down your responses. Start with a long-term perspective, clarify what it means in the medium term and then you can work out the practicalities for 2019.

These are challenging questions so don't expect to come up with all the answers at your first attempt – give yourself time and space to work through it over the coming weeks.

Which three areas of your life do you want to pay much more attention to this year? What decisions can you make right now to point you in the right direction?

Let your responses shape and directly influence the choices that you make in 2019 and beyond ...but be prepared to rethink and refocus.

The Life Direction Wheel is just one of the leadership models showcased in LEAD: 50 models for success in work & life, (John D. H. Greenway Andy Blacknell and Andy Coombe, published by Wiley). We have blended 20 of our own original models with 30 classics that will enable leaders of all walks of life to sharpen their focus and raise their game. The great news is that all the illustrations are on in glorious technicolour and are free for you to download and use!

Many thanks go to Visual Thinkery for the great illustrations.