I don’t believe in work-life balance. I don’t believe you should work yourself to exhaustion so you can take time off to spend time with friends/family and enjoy life. I certainly don’t think you should trade your ambitions and dreams of building an amazing business and career by settling for being a 9-5 drone.
There should be no tradeoff. You want what I call “Life Wealth” and among other things it means you control your time. You control the when, where and how. You work on a Saturday because you want to watch your kid’s school play on a Tuesday. I’m not talking about entitlement (that you “deserve” it) or just having a flexible role, I’m talking about life design so that you live a full life. Hard work? Sure. Easy to pull off? No way. Worth it? Without question. It just may be the difference between you having a good life or an amazing one.
I often dig in deep with entrepreneurs to help them achieve Life Wealth. It requires a new set of thinking for most people. No one is going to say “Hey Mac, work when you want, do what you want and we will pay you well for it”. You have to build a great business or add so much value that the “when” or “where” doesn’t matter. You have to divorce time and money. You have to be intentional.
So here are three quick strategies you can start using on your path to Life Wealth:
Fusion. Unlike “balance” where you are always in a specific mode or place (i.e. at work, at home, with the kids, with co-workers) and fight for a reasonable allocation of time to the other buckets, Fusion means you blur the lines. You “work” at home, at the office, odd hours, on vacation not only because you need to, but because you can. You can achieve great things because you are able to work when it is optimal and productive. You also get to live life you are passionate about (family, friends, charity work, sports, etc.) seven days a week (not just weekends or on a vacation). Some days you leave early to go for a hike. You have a long lunch with your husband/wife or best friend in the middle of the week. You take a Wednesday off to hang out with your kids or bring them to work with you to learn what you do. You travel with family but get up early to respond to emails before hitting the beach. Making life work and work life. Fusion leads to Life Wealth.
Focus. To achieve fusion and life wealth requires tremendous discipline. You have to be able to work when your brain is sharp, when people are able to meet and when things need to get done. You need to get in that moment and focus when you have to. You have to build processes, hire people and build systems that allow you to spend 80%+ of your time on things that Move the Needle, not just staying busy or doing menial tasks. And although you have the ability to work on a Saturday you can’t be sitting at the kids recital on your mobile phone the whole time. You have to be present for your family. Fusion is about priorities and moving your efforts and energy to the things that matter most. This “focus” is daily and something you will have to work on constantly. But when you stay on things that Move the Needle and things you are passionate about, you’ll be amazed at the energy it produces.
Design. You have to design a business around your life, family, goals and dreams. Design means you have to plan, measure, learn, iterate and evolve. You have to commit to making it work. AND you have to do this with such focus and efficiency that people just see you flat out get stuff done. Your life design is around things that matter (again, things that Move the Needle) so your output is huge. Design also means your company culture (peers, bosses, employees, associates, partners, etc.) all have to understand how you work and KNOW that you are about getting things done. If you have a boss or a coworker that thinks sitting in a cubicle all day is how great work gets done, then you have to educate and demonstrate that you operate at a higher level of output and value than anyone who sits in a cubicle.
Now, this is critical: Remember, no one OWES you flexibility or life wealth you design it and make it happen.