“The Keys to Finding Work+Life Fit” from Psychology Today

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In addition to being the author of a smart, engaging new book, Success: How We Can Reach Our Goals, Heidi Grant Halvorsen writes The Science of Success blog for Psychology Today.  Recently, she asked me to explain work+life “fit” for her readers.   The following is an excerpt from her post.

Like a lot of working parents, I find myself constantly juggling both professional and personal goals, trying to find time for everything that matters, and sometimes feeling like I’m screwing it up big time.  So for a little wisdom and practical advice, I turned to Cali Williams Yost, the CEO of the Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit, Inc., a flexibility strategy consulting firm. (Her book is  Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You).

Me:  Why is it a problem for us to think in terms of work-life “balance”?

Cali:  When your goal is work-life “balance,” it causes more problems than it solves.  In fact, here are what I call the 10 Tyrannies of Work/Life Balance:

  1. Balance is always discussed in the negative-what you “don’t” have.
  2. Balance keeps you focused on the problem, not the solution.
  3. Balance assumes we’re all the same.
  4. Balance infers that there is a “right” a answer.
  5. Balance leads us to judge others (and ourselves), often unfairly.
  6. Balance results in unproductive guilt.
  7. Balance suggests that the goal is an impossible 50-50 split between work and the other parts of your life.
  8. Balance leaves no room for periods where there’s more work and less life, and vice versa.
  9. Balance ignores the fact that work and life are constantly changing, and
  10. Balance will never be taken seriously by corporate leaders, who only hear “work less” when you say “balance.”

Plus, have you ever noticed that when the term “work-life balance” is written out, there’s either a “-” or a “/” between work and life?  The truth is that work and life are one and the same today.  Not separate.  You may want them to ultimately be as separate as possible, but you need to start from the premise that it’s all one big ball of time and energy that you need to deliberately and consciously manage.

Me: What is “work+life fit” How will I know when I have it?

Cali: Work+life fit is the way work “fits” into your life, day-to-day and at major life and career transitions.  It’s like snowflakes.  Everyone has a different work+life fit reality.  No two are the same.   Thinking about the goal as work+life “fit,” frees you from the ten tyrannies of balance above because you:

  1. Talk about what you could have.
  2. See solutions.
  3. Know we’re all different.
  4. Realize there’s no right answer.
  5. Stop judging yourself and others, harshly.
  6. Lose the guilt.
  7. Embrace and plan for the ebb and flow of work and life, and
  8. Increase the likelihood that corporate leaders will support the need to flexibly manage work and life better and smarter.

How will you know you “have it?”  (Click here for my answer to this great question that Heidi posed!)

  • Cali, love your points.

    Addressing the problem that the phrase work life balance presents is a challenge as it has become so deeply ingrained in our vocabulary and mindset.

    I work with parents who run businesses from home and when I talk to them about not chasing work life balance because they have the opportunity and potential to design and create life how they really want it to be, there can be a little bit of resistence. However, once they shift from focussing on “balance” to “design”, it is wonderful to see the liberation in their eyes and the new possibilities that open up.

    Great to know someone else that is challenging the issues with the phrase work life balance.

  • Cali, your points should so be taken by executives in the workplace especially in the arena of caring for a loved one. It is becoming commonplace for all of us as we start taking care of our parents and are continuing to try and work a full time job and allowing work/life/fit into this aspect can be a tremendous asset for the employee AND the employer.