In my previous post "Why work-life balance is misleading" we looked at how focussing on the phrase work-life balance could be guiding your focus and actions down a route that won’t deliver what you really want for yourself.

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The Alternative To Work Life Balance

The Alternative to Work Life BalanceIn the post Why Work Life Balance is Misleading. we looked at how focussing on the phrase work life balance could be guiding your focus and actions down a route that won’t deliver what you really want for yourself.

What is a more effective alternative?

Start by dropping the word balance!

Balancing work, family life, personal life and living life fully isn’t the answer to achieving success on your own terms.

Let me share a personal example:

My marriage, being a parent to my son and living life fully is way, way more important to me than work. It isn’t that I don’t like my work – I love it. However, there is no way I want it to balance with the things I value most.

Balancing every aspect of my life isn’t and never will be my objective.

My objective is to ensure the most important roles in my life are protected and the roles that are less important don’t negatively impact them. Take a look at your own situation – do you compromise on what is most important to you because your are trying to create balance?

If not work-life balance, then what?

The key here is to focus on designing how you really want things to be, not balance them. If you focus on designing each aspect of your life starting with the most important and building the rest around it, then you will be on the road to creating success on your own terms.

Here are few actions you can take right now that will get you started on this.

Important note: imagine you have no limitations at all when doing this exercise. Don’t think to much about it, go with your gut:

  • Write a list of all your roles in life e.g. business owner, spouse/partner, parent, friend, and so on.
  • Put them in a priority order based on what you value most and what is most important to you – don’t compromise!
  • For each role, write out what it looks like when it is absolutely the way you want it to be – be specific.

Once you have done that, start looking for ways you can start turning that into reality. If you don’t know how just start by researching, committing to learning how, getting support etc.

You have just created the foundation on which you will design your life and re-define your work to live and work on your own terms – by design.

It is living by design, not chasing balance, that will deliver the life and results you really want.

In this post – Goodbye work life balance! Hello success by design! we delve into actions you can take to turn this foundation into reality and make balance a thing of the past.

Would love to hear your feedback on dropping “balance” in favour of “success by design”. You can leave your comments on this below.

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  • Ali Davies

    Thanks for the feedback David. Your comment is spot on. People need to work out what their most important values are and build a business and lifestyle round that.

  • davidholllingworth

    I think you're right, it's easy to get hung up on trying to “balance” everything that you forget that the whole point is to be happy. Balance implies equal proportions; but that's not necessarily right for everyone.

  • Thanks for the feedback David. Your comment is spot on. People need to work
    out what their most important values are and build a business and lifestyle
    round that.

  • christinelivingston

    Love it, Ali. Well done on debunking the myth about work life balance and moving beyond the theory to giving a real example of how you can design your own life to achieve success on your own terms!

  • Mike Korner

    Hi Ali,

    I'm not sure we need a new term for “balance” but “success by design” works for me. A few years ago I did an exercise like the one you prescribed and discovered that all of my roles are important to me and that their priority changes depending on what’s happening in my/their life.

    Being persistent, I still wanted to find a way to be successful in all my roles, despite the priority changes. (Note: At the time, I was under the influence of the First Things First habit from Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book.)

    What I did is to divide a piece of paper to have a square per role. In each square, I put the name of the role, and a bulleted list of the things I need to focus on to meet my success criteria for that role.

    I keep my Role Priorities planner with my weekly task list so I have a frequent reminder of what I said is important to me. Using this list, I can adjust my weekly plans where necessary. I update my Role Priorities sheet whenever I need to but I like to formally review it in my annual review. This has served me well.

  • Thanks Christine. I think it is helpful for people to have something they
    can play with round a discussion topic. Glad you liked it.

  • Mike, thank you so much for sharing that exercise. It is a great example of
    finding a system that works for you and supports you in achieving what is
    most important to you. You raise a really valid point there that it is also
    important to regularly review and measure the situation because, as you
    quite rightly point out, things change, evolve depending on what is
    happening in our work or lives at any one time. I like the Stephen Covey
    book. Got some really thought provoking material in it. Thanks for dropping
    by and joining the discussion. .

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  • For me, it just creates a mindset that leads in a better more fulfilling direction that is more likely to deliver the results most desired.

  • “For each role, write out what it looks like when it is absolutely the way you want it to be – be specific.” Specific is right! Its been my experience that the universe takes the most direct route to getting you where you say you want to go. With mixed results when you’re not specific enough.

  • Yes, being specific is very important. This is how I see it:
    The more specific your vision is the more specific your goals will be. The more specific your goals are the more specific your action plans will be. And the more specific your actions are the more specific your results will be.