By Monique Y. Wells
The term “work life balance” has become an integral part of the conversations that we have regarding the stress associated with work and the toll that it takes on our lives. Sometimes, this stress grows to the point of “overwhelm” – the feeling that one or several aspects of work are more than we can handle, both physically and emotionally.
For the Executive MBA candidate, the MBA program (school) needs to be added to the “balance equation.” Even if the student had been doing reasonably well with juggling work and the rest of his or her life prior to enrolling in the program, the additional time and energy required to successfully complete it can disrupt whatever balance previously existed.
What is Work Life balance?
More and more people are coming forward to express the sentiment that work/life balance is a fallacy and that it is actually impossible to achieve. They cite definitions for the word “balance” that refer to “equilibrium” or “equality” and the need to add or subtract from one side of the imaginary scale of life to “even things out.”
However, there is one definition that is rarely, if ever, cited in these discussions. It refers to balance as “the power or means to decide.” This definition is in total harmony with the spirit of the term “work life balance,” which means making decisions on a daily basis regarding which elements of work (or school) should be emphasized at what time and when elements of your personal life should take priority.
From Work Life Balance to Achieving Life Balance
The most important element of achieving life balance is developing self-awareness and tuning into that awareness each and every day. How are you feeling physically? Mentally? Emotionally? As a high-powered executive, you may well have trained yourself to ignore – or at least put aside – these cues to well-being because they are not convenient to deal with “in the moment.” Yet they are the entire backbone of the life balance that provides the optimal environment for completing your EMBA program
I believe that we should move away from the term “work life balance” and embrace the mindset of “life balance” so that we can take a holistic view of our lives instead of compartmentalizing them. In realizing that “all things are never equal” and becoming comfortable with this notion, we empower ourselves to act in good conscience and without guilt for our own best interests and those of our loved ones, colleagues, team members, and others in our personal and professional lives. This is particularly true for women executives, who frequently struggle to accept and feel good about the time that they spend away from family. When the EMBA candidate is able to do this and do it well, then life balance is indeed possible!
This consciousness and the intentions and actions that stem from it are the beginning of personal productivity. While many people define productivity as “getting things done”, the fact is that it matters little how many things you accomplish in a given period of time if those things do not move you toward your desired goal. If you want to be truly productive, undertake every task that you set for yourself with a vision of what it means for you, your family, your employer or your business, and ultimately, the world! When you are able to do this consistently, the tactical aspects of productivity (ex: effective delegation, avoiding over-commitment) will yield rich results for you.
About the Author
Dr. Monique Y. Wells is committed to helping passionate, high-achieving solopreneurs, small business owners, and corporate professionals "get over overwhelm" so that they can enjoy less stress, more income, greater job satisfaction, and more time to spend with family and friends – guilt-free! You can learn more about Monique at her website.