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Win at Work

Winning at Working--Want More Balance?
By Nan S. Russell
Feb 26, 2012 - 5:05:42 PM

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Despite efforts on the Wii Fitness balance game, Wii persists in rating me as "unbalanced." And while it's true I'm feeling a bit stressed with a new book coming out in May, and more commitments than common sense dictates, being balanced is a challenge.

Work reminds me of that balance game. Some days, I feel like I'm floating my avatar in a balloon down a lazy river, enjoying virtual sunshine and feeling pretty balanced, when unexpectedly, bees attack, currents push me against the shore, and my protective balloon pops against the jagged cliffs. In order to fight back against the bees and the currents and not crash into the edge, I must shift my balance.

Yet, as soon as we restore a bit of work balance, something or someone changes our priorities, hurling us with tornado-like force into a new crisis, challenge, reorganization, customer issue, or coworker, staff, or boss problem.

Of course, there's more in our lives than work, and the constantly shifting elements of family, health, finances, and emotional well-being creates its own asymmetrical impact. You never know what's lurking in the shadows of new priorities, uncontrollable events, or emerging realities.

But, this elusive balance concept isn't just about ever changing priorities and challenges. We also overlay our expectations and desires on others, wanting them to create balance for us, or at least, stop impacting our precarious state.

We complain that our employers don't enforce work-family balance, our government over-regulates or under-regulates the issues dear to us, or our time is devoured by others without regard to our personal well-being. We often see a balanced life as an outside-in endeavor. But people who are winning at working know that's not the case. They understand that real balance is an inside job, as unique as we are.

What kind of individual balance composition you want, need, and seek at work (or life), is like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The porridge is too hot or too cold, the chair is too big or too small, until Goldilocks finds the one that is "just right" for her. That's key.

In creating well-being and individual balance, people who are winning at working know that what may be too much for you, may be too little for me and vice versa. They don't expect what being balanced means to them is the same for everyone they work with. We want and need different things, at different times in our lives, for different reasons. And as we change, it changes. For some, work and play are the same thing; for others, definitely not.

People who are winning at working use self-awareness to drive their balance. They watch for cues, paying attention to their emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and mental well-being, adjusting according. They realize there are consequences for them, at work and at home, if they stay unbalanced for too long.

That means they consider themselves a priority. How can you be of value to others if you're in an unbalanced state? Yet, balance is more than current moment self-awareness and adjustments. It requires knowing what balance is for you.

Are you more aligned with the proverb: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," or Warren Beatty's words, "You've achieved success in your field when you don't know what you're doing is work or play," or are somewhere in-between? There's no balance right or wrong. It's what's right or wrong for you.

Like the African proverb reminds, "There are three things that a man must know to survive long in the world: what is too much for him, what is too little for him, and what is just right for him." Want more work-life balance? Start by figuring out what those three things mean for you.

(c) 2012 Nan S. Russell.  All rights reserved.

Nan Russell's latest book is The Titleless Leader (Career Press, 2012). Other books include: Hitting Your Stride and Nibble Your Way to Success. More about Nan and her work

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