My friend, Cali Yost, is an internationally-recognized expert on work/life fit. In her new book, Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, she suggests ways to hone in and make time for your most critical priorities. But before you can do that, she shares some essential truths about work/life fit that are important to understand if we are to be satisfied at work and at home.
As recently as the last decade, the hours of 9-to-5 were standard in most organizations. You did your work during that period, and then you went home and took care of your personal life. But the reality of people’s lives no longer matches those neat, rigid expectations. The growing mismatch is causing people and business to suffer.
Companies and managers alone can’t solve the work/life challenges of their employees. Managers and HR departments can’t tell each person in the organization how to manage their work and life because everyone’s circumstances on and off the job are completely different. Employers must create a work environment in which it is okay to discuss potential flexible work/life solutions. Then we, individual employees, need to meet the organization halfway and come to the table with a plan that takes into consideration our needs and the needs of the business.
Using “balance” to describe the goal of flexibility for individuals causes more problems than it solves. That’s because there really isn’t a “balance” or ideal 50-50 split between work and life. Most of the time, what we’re after is not working less, but working differently. By shifting hours, allowing telecommuting, and changing the way work is completed, everyone can manage the way work fits into his or her life. The goal is to create an environment where all of those different work/life fit realities can live together to achieve the goals of business over time.
In a survey Yost conducted, 75 percent of respondents believed that they actively managed their everyday work and life on a regular basis. But only 40 percent said, “I always keep a calendar with all of my personal and work to-dos and goals in one place.” Most didn't have a clear snapshot of their work and personal activities and priorities in one place, which is critical for making good decisions.
Furthermore, 26 percent said, “On average, I set time aside daily or weekly to check in with myself and answer the question, ‘What do I want?’" In other words, less than a third regularly reflected on what mattered to them. You can’t take action without knowing what you want. And finally, only 15 percent said, “When I see a mismatch between what I want in my work/life fit and what’s happening I make adjustments, always.” And only 15 percent said they took control and added what was missing and stopped what wasn't working.
Proof is everywhere that small changes pay off over time. You lose two sizes tracking your daily calories with Weight Watchers. You fund a European vacation by automatically transferring $50 a week to savings. It’s the same with managing the way work fits into your life day-to-day. By harnessing the small, targeted actions related to relationships, wellness, personal maintenance, planning, networking, and social media, these barely noticeable choices will become second nature and collectively transform your performance on the job and off without any scary, bold disruption.
For more insights about achieving better work/life fit, check out Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day.
What are some ways you find your work/life fit?