The Work/Life Balance Conundrum

Work Life Balance
How good are you at the balancing act?

Work/life balance is such an overused and incorrect term. No one who critically thinks about it actually believes work and life should balance. Balance by definition means they should equal but it seems pretty obvious they do not.

What is the difference between work and life? You live 24 hours a day and you probably work between eight and 12 hours a day. Those working hours are still part of your life, right? So how can you really differentiate between work and life. I don’t think you can.

It seems everyone talks (or complains might be more accurate) about work/life balance. There are books, podcasts, panels, etc. all focused on this terrible phrase. In fact, I was recently in a company and saw a sign for the “work life and diversity” department. Are there really departments for work/life balance?  Wow!

In my opinion, work/life balance should be called “priority management.” I was asked by a former colleague to be a participant in a work/life balance panel for an accounting organization. Had it not been for an inch of ice we received that morning, we were set to have well over 100 attendees at this meeting. Even with the ice, I think more than 50 attended. That’s says something about a subject’s popularity when a person will risk life and limb to attend. During our discussion on the panel, I gave my thoughts on what work/life balance really means. I achieve work/life balance if I can meet two priorities.

  1. I will never miss a church service, unless I am traveling at the time of the service.  God is the priority for my wife and me. We vowed to live as Christ did and raise our children to be faithful to his teachings. How can we expect our children to respect our teaching if we don’t even live the way we should. We attend church services on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. There are also many other church-related events in which we participate. Even though it is a huge time commitment and keeps us from doing other things, there is nothing we would rather do.
  2. I will never miss a major family event, unless I have to be traveling at the time of the event. The demands of my job require that I have many day-long trips, overnight trips and work long hours in the office. Thankfully, in the age of technology in which we are blessed to live, I can often work remotely. My oldest daughter plays competitive volleyball. Club volleyball season has the most tournaments during the first quarter of the year which is also my busiest time of the year. Her first season of club ball, I made it to only about half the tournaments. That left my wife alone with our two-year old half the time. After that season, I committed to making every tournament. That was good because by the next season, we had another child. That lesson taught me that work does not come before my family. Even last week (Halloween) I waited until 9 p.m. and trick-or-treating was over before I left for a three and a half hour drive to a client for the next day.

As long as I meet those two priorities, I consider myself to have work/life balance. What are your priorities? What are your thoughts on work/life balance? I’m very curious to know what others’ priorities are. Please leave comments below so others can learn from you.

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Socially Unacceptable

socially unacceptable
It’s okay to be socially unacceptable

Why is it socially unacceptable in the U.S. to enjoy or even love your job? I know several people who work for great companies and make great livings but would say they do not even enjoy their jobs. One question…why don’t they find something else to do?

My guess is if a poll for job satisfaction was taken in this county that an overwhelming majority of workers would say they were not satisfied. It’s probably not the money either. It’s because they don’t know how to be happy.

Not all companies are created equal and not all jobs have the same perks. Some people work for their employers because there are no other options. However, you CAN still enjoy, if not even love, your job!

Following are four ways to change your mindset to at least be content with and hopefully learn to love your job:

  1. Think about what you would not be able to afford to do or have if you were not blessed with the job you have. Even if you are not paid what you feel you are worth, you are paid. The majority of the people in the world make less than you. I’ve heard that worldwide, the poorer the people, the higher their enjoyment of life. Why is that? It’s likely because they feel blessed for what they have. Do you feel blessed for what you have and what you are able to do?
  2. Realize you make a difference in the lives of people by what you do. Yes, you really do make a difference. I work in the public accounting field and my decisions do not save lives, institute world peace or decrease pollution. But, through the work I do, my clients can be confident in their organizations’ financial stability and be able to continue providing their services.
  3. If you are a sanitary engineer (yes, a trash man), you make a difference in the lives of others. Without you, our homes and streets would stink and be infested with disease. If you are a grocery store clerk, you make a difference in the lives of your shoppers and their families. Food wouldn’t even be delivered to the store if you were not there to facilitate those purchases of food. You do make a difference!
  4. You learn to deal with people and situations in your job. If we all stayed home and sat on the couch all day watching soaps or talk shows, you would only learn how to live a fake and fruitless life. We learn valuable life lessons because of the situations we face and the people we interact with each day.
  5. Think about the number of friends you have made in the different jobs you have held throughout your life. For most people, the two places most friends are made are school and work. I have made some very close friends through my career. I cannot imagine my life without them in it.

The Bible teaches to be of the world but to not conform to the world. Let’s not conform to the world view and let’s enjoy the work we do. Stop complaining. Start talking about positive things. Stop gossiping about a boss. Start telling them how much you appreciate them. Stop griping about your commute. Start enjoying your time alone. Stop wishing for more toys. Enjoy the things you have.

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Why I Love My Job

lovemyjob I love my job! It would not surprise me if you don’t. How can I love my job, my employer, my boss, my associates when they take up more time than what I get to spend with my wife and children? I will give you five reasons.

  1. Public accounting takes a toll on its practitioners. The average attrition rate in the industry is between 20 and 30 percent per year. A few things contribute to that turnover but there are two primary reasons. First, the hours required can make it difficult to have many other, if any, priorities. The second reason is the travel, which is closely related to the time commitment. Many younger accountants decide to leave the field after they get married and start having children. Some of my closest friends have made these decisions and it has worked well for them. While the travel and time commitments can sometimes be daunting, I love what I do. The hours I work permit me to engage my brain in ways not possible outside my office’s four walls.
  2. My travels provide me opportunities to visit cities I would not have otherwise visited. While most of my clients are centralized in my local area, conferences and training sessions are sometimes held in distant locations.Someday, I plan on utilizing these trips as beginning points for some vacations with my wife.
  3. My career permitted my family to enjoy having a stay-at-home mom. Shortly before my wife and I were married, she “retired” from her career as a banker. Although we sacrificed financially, because at the time she was making about the same salary as me, it was completely worth the sacrifice. For almost seven years, she had been a single mom working and going to school full-time. This was a blessing for us at the beginning of our lives together.
  4. Management cares for its people. A few years into the job, we experienced a health scare within my family which made it so I needed to be out of the office for extended periods of time. My bosses (and I made this plural because each partner in the office said the same thing) told me to concentrate on my family and they would make sure my work was handled appropriately. There have been other times I’ve been the boss that has said this same thing to my team members. Also, my boss tells me frequently to go spend time with my family and not work on a Saturday.
  5. Accounting was my first choice as a profession. Teaching (and coaching) was my second choice. I chose the money over the summer vacations.  In reality though, I teach every day. A continually changing environment not only requires me to be a life long learner, it also provides the opportunities to teach prospects, clients and staff. And, when one teaches, that person learns all the more!

The five items above are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are many other reasons why I love my job and I will likely write about them in the future. Hopefully, you love your job for many reasons too. If you do not love your job, I will also address in the future some ways you can change your perspective. In the meantime, please add a comment below or send me a tweet as to why you love your job!

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