A Business Approach to the Balance of Life
I think balance is a fallacy. A cop-out. It’s something you work towards because you’ve heard that’s what you’re supposed to do—that personal and work life need to be divided equally related to time.
More specifically, when focusing on balance as the goal, we tend to make decisions like this: either mow the lawn or work on that presentation, catch the second half of the Colts game or do the expense report. The decisions, when using balance as the goal, do nothing but force choices in the now, with no eye towards an end result.
After this futility and short-sided decision-making was happening in my own life, I decided to stop striving for balance and look at it in a different way. I was tired of losing a battle I couldn’t win.
Forget Balance: Focus on your Personal Vision
When my wife and I were having our first child in 2006, my business, PERQ, was doubling in size. I was panicked. I still believed in the concept of “work-life balance.” One night in bed I wondered, “Why am I thinking about it this way?” I had an epiphany, realizing I was more focused on the tasks rather than the end goal. What did I want to accomplish in my life and how could I get there? That has nothing to do with balance.
The vision statement of my life was missing, unlike my business. So why not take the elements of a clearly articulated business strategy and apply them to my personal life? What I’d learned while we crafted the vision for PERQ could be applied to defining and achieving the vision I had for my family and my life away from work.
Trying to find a balance is a short-term goal. Would PERQ have seen so much growth if we were focused only on balancing the success we’d already seen? Of course not. We defined our vision, which meant deciding where we wanted to be as a company. We built out a strategy—which was how we were getting there—and then set concrete goals along the way to make sure we were headed in the right direction.
Time Doesn’t Dictate Importance
We generally spend more time at work than we do with our family. This is a reality. And if I measured how much I love my family by how much time I spent with them versus work, I would certainly be failing them. But that’s not the case at all. I pride myself in being a good dad and husband and consider it my reason for being. Business is a big tool in making that happen.
A Strategy for Life
Here’s what I asked myself: how do we determine at PERQ how well we’re accomplishing our strategy and vision? We look at data. We constantly look at metrics, KPI’s, growth rate, and we scrutinize our goals for being too high, or too easy. We’re not simply measuring our growth to make sure we’re staying afloat, but we want to continually strive to reach our vision and create value along the way. In my personal life, I aim for that same process—defining a vision and evaluating my success.
Over the next series of posts, I will navigate my process in identifying a mission, values, vision, and goals. It wasn’t easy to do—pretty damn hard actually—but the end result was certainly worth the struggle. Now, it’s all about execution and ongoing measurement as I continue to make my vision my reality.