Tipping the Scales on Work/Life Balance

An article in Forbes Magazine caught my eye with this statistic, “94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week in a Harvard Business School survey.” That’s a lot of hours. Sadly, I have been guilty of that.

I know for me, working long hours is a result of my own personal drive and the technology that keeps me connected 24/7. Technology itself is extremely enabling but has also blurred the lines between work and life. I know for me it’s a necessary tool for building my business. But, my driven personality and always-on connectivity put significant pressure on my relationships with my family and friends.

Work can be like a magnet. It pulls you in, sometimes so completely that you can lose sight of the things in your life you care about most, like your spouse, your kids, and your health. This is common with people who are driven, like myself. It doesn’t matter who you are—an analyst, an entrepreneur, or a CEO, when you have a strong drive to succeed in what you are doing, you tend to give it your all. Over time, that can have troublesome results for your personal life.

I wish I could say I have this nailed down, but I don’t. I have to make a conscious effort every day. When I was building Pyramid Analytics, I spent most of the year traveling, much of that internationally. I would be gone two to three weeks at a time. While my wife knew and appreciated the sacrifices I had to make, I can’t say she would have tolerated it for the long term.

Fortunately, I recognized it becoming a problem and took actions to rebalance things. I think that’s the key here. One of the most profound things I did was to relocate my whole family to Seattle to be closer to Pyramid Analytics. Although initially disruptive, it has allowed us the time to be a family again. We now have much more time to spend together.

We make our time together meaningful. While I’m certainly still not a typical 9-5 person, I do spend time with my family most nights and weekends. Together, we ski and snowboard, go to sports games, and attend music concerts. In fact, we recently all saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We attend our sons sports activities, including their Ultimate Frisbee games. And, I make sure we take a couple vacations together every year.

Tipping the work/life scales back in balance is your decision. As the new year begins, do a sanity check on your life. What is really important to you? Are you enjoying life or constantly making sacrifices? Are your kids growing up before your eyes? Are you spending quality time nurturing the very relationship that sustains you with your spouse, partner, or friend?

Put the phone down and be present in the moment. Your work connections will understand.