American singer and songwriter, Harry Chaplin wrote a song called “Cat’s in the Cradle.”  In the song, the father could never find time to spend with his child and eventually when the father retired, he yearns to see his son only to realise too late that his son has become like him. 

Many corporations aspire to create a work-life balance for their staff and yet struggle in achieving this ideal outcome. Driven by corporate goal to maximise profits and returns on investments, individuals in organisations tend to work harder and longer.  This does not necessarily translate into productivity or efficiency.  When individuals drive themselves in this manner, it contributes to stress-related diseases and emotionally strained relationship leading to more serious problems. 

The risks involved in an unhealthy work-life imbalance further lead to poor health and unresolved performance conflicts and may cause financial loss and a lackadaisical attitude in the long run.  Unfortunately, many executives entrench themselves with the mindset that work-life balance is only achievable by a privileged few.  This is a flawed observation as achieving a work-life balance is all about making the right choices. It depends on how much value you attach to the things that means most to you in your life. Your career is just as important as your personal and family life.  It is the way in which you strike a balance between the passionate need to excel in your career and a compassionate need to spend quality time with your family, friends and doing things that adds value to your life.  

Work-life balance cannot occur on its own. Constant and consistent effort is required to create the ideal work-life balance that you aspire. Here are three things you can do to achieve this.

Set long term goals but take one day at a time

Setting long term goals allows you to have a clear perspective of where you are and where you want to be. To succeed in this, involve the people in your life by being emotionally connected with them.

As you progress in life to achieve your goal; be it financial success, the dream job or setting up your own business, take it one day at a time and ensure that the important people in your life are not left behind.

Tread on the Pebbles but keep your focus on the Big Rocks

The pebbles represent the daily routine that is part and parcel of your life.  If you are not cautious, these tiny pebbles will start to accumulate and soon you will be overwhelmed.  Phone calls, email responses, customers’ expectations, bosses’ instructions and meetings are some pebbles in life.  The big rocks represent the important things that give a perspective in life. These include your family, hobbies, career, and so forth.  Be mindful of these so that you do not trip and hurt yourself.

Cultivate your family and personal life

What makes you a wholesome person is how you manage your work-life successfully.  To achieve this balance, you need discipline and have to work on your attitude and aptitude.  You need to conscientiously cultivate those things that you hold dear in your heart. Now, reflect upon what Chinese philosopher, Confucius idealised: To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.

Article by Daniel Theyagu, corporate trainer and keynote speaker who has personally designed and delivered training to more than 200,000 people from 40 countries. Daniel is also an author of five books and his articles on self-improvement and personal success are regularly featured.