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What’s Your Ideal Work/Life Balance?

16 June 2008 3 Comments

Work/life balance is a concept that gets a great deal of attention these days.  Companies preach about their fantastic work/life balance opportunities when recruiting season rolls around.  I know I fell for it at my first employer.

You should be the one dictating what your work/life balance should look like.  Determine what you want for your life.  Then go get it.

Before you can negotiate or find a better work/life balance for yourself, you must know what you want.  A good exercise for this is to brainstorm what your ultimate or ideal work/life balance would look like.  Be creative here, while at the same time, realizing this is work/life balance, not retirement.  Plan your retirement dreams another time.

Furthermore, what are the things outside of work that are important to you?  Travel, golf, investing?  How do these activities factor into your work/life balance?

In this post, I will go through what my ideal work/life balance would look like.  I would go into detail about what I enjoy in life, what I value in life, and how these things factor into my ideal work/life balance.  I hope my example provides you with direction in your own brainstorming.  Lastly, you and I must find the steps to reach such an ideal scenario.  I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about my own life…

My Two Ideal Work/Life Balance Scenarios

My first example of my ideal work/life balance assumes that this blog, 20s Money, becomes huge.  It assumes that this blog generates a great deal of revenue for me, somewhere in the $20,000 a month range.  Pretty aggressive, huh?  Well, like I said, this is my ideal scenario.

With that kind of income, I would fully embrace the dot com lifestyle.  I would revel in complete lifestyle flexibility.  All that is required is a laptop and an internet connection.  Feel like living in Buenos Aires for three months?  Done.  I’ll blog from there.  Feel like hanging out in Italy for a summer?  Point me to the nearest internet cafe.  The dot com lifestyle would mean the ultimate in flexibility, un-tethered from a desk or cubicle.  I could probably work ten hours or less a week, but again that isn’t the point.  The flexibility is the dream.

My second scenario is not the dot com lifestyle, but is still a candidate for my ideal work/life balance.  This example involves me running my own business; however, I am not the one doing all the leg work.  I would have fantastic people in management positions that are both competent and great leaders.  They would run the business more than I would.  Having competent people running my business would allow me the time to do other things in my life that matter to me.  The ultimate business to run would be the business that if I were to leave for a year, the business would not only survive but flourish.

Emphasizing The Life Part In Work/Life

Now that you I have explained my two ideal working scenarios, you can see that flexibility of time is a huge motivation for me.  More so than making millions of dollars.  Perhaps, it’s possible to do both.

What are the things that I truly enjoy in life?

I truly desire to travel with my family; however, not the kind of travel that is stressful and touristy.  I desire enough flexibility to be able to live in another country for months at a time if desired.  Cramming a two week European vacation where you push yourself to see every tourist attraction and site is not appealing.  That’s hardly a vacation.

I desire to spend time with my family.  I would love to be able to spend all day with my future kids when they are out of school during the summer.  I want to coach my boy’s little league team, and take my wife and daughter out on dates.  What a blessing it would be to be able to spend lengthy amounts of time with those close to me.

Similarly, I hope to be involved in others’ lives in a positive way.  My current mentoring of a seventh grader has been extremely rewarding and is something that I have truly enjoyed.  I hope to continue similar endeavors and have the time to do so.

Lastly, I desire to accomplish goals outside of business.  Currently, I am training to run a marathon.  This is an example of such a goal.  Next, I hope to drastically improve my golf game.  I will have more goals throughout my life and I hope to have the time to pursue them.

Making It Happen

Understanding what you desire and value is the first step to reaching your ideal work/life balance.  I am very aware of the things that bring me joy and fulfillment.  They are the reasons why I pursue a certain work/life balance.

Creating a plan to reach your work/life balance is key.  Simply deciding that you want such a balance “some day” is not enough.  You need a time line coupled with your goals, otherwise they are pointless dreams.  Create specific steps with a hard deadline for each.  Each step should bring you closer to your ideal work/life balance.

For me, getting this blog off the ground was the first step towards the possibility of living the dot com lifestyle.  My next goal is to grow the readership and traffic by being dedicated to providing at least 5-8 articles of quality content a week for the next year.  Furthermore, I am planning to research and experiment with different revenue drivers for the next year.  After completion of the year, I will have a breadth of experience that will enable me to draw up a strong revenue plan for the blog.  If the blog fails over the next year, so what?  I’ll try something else.

Where are you in your journey?  Have you yet to even determine what your ideal work/life balance would look like?  Or are you stuck trying to take the first step towards reaching your dream.  Don’t be stuck having good intentions coupled with no action.  Take action today.

3 Comments »

  • torbjorn rive said:

    I really enjoyed this post, Kevin.

    What you wrote really stirs my brain at the moment because I’m a part-time student as well as working almost full-time at my current employer (consulting firm). Sometimes I believe that the only thing that’s stopping me from starting down my own consulting road is that fact that I’m furthering my education, which is somewhat silly.

    I’m stuck because I need that corporate pay while I’m in school, and building my network and credentials.

    …okay, ‘stuck’ is an exaggeration…but it feels that way when I wish for that freedom that this post has reminded me of. Not freedom like cartwheels on the beach, but freedom like building my VERY own work/life balance

  • kevin duffey said:

    I definitely know what you are talking about. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between temporary sacrifices for your future and circumstances that are holding us back. Education is usually a good thing and will benefit you for years.

    I worked for a large corporate company (100,000+ employees) for a few years out of school and immediately knew that it wasn’t for me long term. I really desire to build a large company from the ground up. I desire flexibility in my life (I can’t stand the fact that most employers work 9-5 no matter what the job is… does every job really require 40 hours a week?).

    Thanks for the comments. This is a topic I am very passionate about and will continue to write about.

  • Jeff said:

    I wouldn’t mind implementing the afternoon siesta (i.e. Europe) into my daily routine.