Is There Such a Thing As Work/Life Balance?

Apr 10, 2012 12:46:39 PM


"Time = Life. Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life." - Alan Lakein

Burnout, low productivity, insomnia, and stress-related illnesses are nearing epidemic levels in the American workplace. Most admit that part of the problem is a lack of balance between work and personal life. But, is there such a thing as life/work balance? The idea of having a balanced life is actually more idealistic than it is practical. Instead, we should aim to lead healthy and fulfilling “counter-balanced” lives. In a counter-balanced life, the issue is not getting out of balance, but how long you stay there. You’ll have to accept that your life will be out of balance at times. As a high achiever, you can’t avoid those times when work or personal priorities require you to run fast and hot, compromising other aspects of your life. The key is to limit these periods of imbalance so that you don’t risk your health, your happiness, your sanity, or your performance.

In a counter-balanced life, you budget time for all of the vital areas of your life: work, family, health, and spiritual pursuits. For example, work assignments may require you to come in early and work late several days in a row. You may find it difficult to make time for your regular exercise routine during this work “fire drill.” An invigorating camping trip on the weekend with your family may help counter-balance out the hectic week.

Adopting the practice of counter-balance will help you stop beating yourself up when you don’t have a balanced day—or maybe even a balanced week. You’ll stop chasing the fantasy of perfect balance and start budgeting your
time to add counter-balance to your life.

A key Keller Williams Realty cultural principle is best explained with the story of “The Big Rocks and the Jar.”

“The Big Rocks and the Jar”

After talking to his students about scheduling all their activities, a high school science teacher takes a large-mouth jar and places several large rocks in it. He then asks the class, “Is it full?” Unanimously, the class replies, “Yes!”
The teacher then takes a bucket of gravel and pours it into the jar. The small rocks settle into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asks the class, “Is the jar full, now?” Most of the students reply, “Yes.” Some were reluctant to agree a second time.

The teacher then produces a large can of sand and proceeds to pour it into the jar. The sand fills up the spaces between the gravel and the big rocks. For the third time, the teacher asks, “Is the jar full?”

Convinced nothing else could go into the jar, many of the students answer, “Yes.” Then the teacher brings out a pitcher of water and pours it into the jar. The water saturates the sand and encases the gravel and rocks. At this point the teacher asks the class, “What is the point of this demonstration?” One bright young student raises his hand and responds, “No matter how full our schedule is, we can always squeeze in more things to do.” “You might think that,” replies the teacher, “but the point is that unless you first place the big rocks into the jar, you are never going to get them in. The big rocks are the important things in your life…your family, your friends, and your personal growth. If you fill your life with small things, as demonstrated with the gravel, sand, and water, you will never have the time for your important things.”

Define Your Big Rocks
The Big Rocks story is really an exercise to help you visualize and appreciate how time can be eaten up by small pursuits (gravel, sand, and water), leaving no room for more important tasks and goals. Defining the most important things in your personal and business life—defining your Big Rocks——is a practical step towards a counter-balanced life.

Examples of Big Rocks
• Your family
• Your spiritual life
• A dream vacation to Europe
• KWU certification
• KW Profit Sharing
• Your office budget
• A charity organization
• $X annual personal income

What are your BIG ROCKS?