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How to Master the Work/Life Balance

Confucius once said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.  Admirable sentiment, and very handy that he dreamt up catchy philosophical musings for me to use in articles two and a half thousand years later. 

Whilst Confucius might set the work satisfaction bar high, he hit the nail on the head when it came to recognising the importance of happiness in the workplace.  And, although in theory most of us know that we spend too much time at work to risk being unhappy (eleven and a half solid years in the average lifetime, according to research from the London Metropolitan University), then a question to ask yourself is - do you truly apply that theory to yourself in practice? To be blunt, I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend my whole working life doing something I neither enjoy nor find rewarding.

But what does happiness mean to you and why is it important for a business?  Let’s remove the human element from that question for a moment and focus on the hard facts;

  • ‘Happy’ workplaces have 10% fewer days lost to staff absence than those felt to be ‘unhappy’ by their staff.  Stress related illness is now the biggest cause of employee absence from work, with 40% of all incapacity benefit payments made last year going to those affected by stress.

  • Happy workplaces also have a 10% higher staff retention rate, which means more stability for the business and continuity for clients.

  • There’s a 5% improvement in productivity at happy companies. (source – Happiness Work Index 2013)

So, happiness at work is not just a fluffy concept, but something which should be part of your strategy for success in life.  With that in mind, how does one go about making it part of your business’ culture? Let’s take a look at habits and behaviour. 

‘Work/life balance’ is a phrase often used, but how does that translate?  For me, the answer is twofold; firstly, ensuring that your life as a whole has equilibrium, with neither part negatively impinging too far upon the other.  Secondly, that the work you do allows you the time and the finances to maintain the lifestyle that you want to live.

I guess this can be closely linked to success, which can be defined however you like. I quite like the idea that success is ‘the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whoever you want’.

Maybe consider if you are doing enough at work to make you feel good.  For example, a number of advisers I know enjoy a feel-good factor by undertaking pro-bono work for causes they believe to be worthy in the spirit of helping clients. This attitude is part of the nature of advisers and one which I can completely understand. However, care needs to be taken to clearly distinguish between work that you choose to take on for charitable reasons and the clients who slowly become cases who demand an awful lot of work, but provide little return. 

For some clients, you may have to give the word ‘no’ a try! It doesn’t come easily to some of us, but I think you’ll be surprised at how liberating a ‘no’ can be when used appropriately.  If you’re in doubt, then perhaps this is an instance in which you need to directly balance your life against your work.  Although many advisers whom I have met will still do lots for clients paying too little, believing that it may appear unethical to reduce the time spent on these clients, surely the time taken up to run around for them, eating into quality time with friends and especially family is even more unethical?

As an adviser, business owner and potentially also an employer, the spectre of not having enough work and not generating enough revenue can loom large for a long time after the business proves itself to be a well functioning, profitable enterprise.  Understandably, not having enough work is a real fear and therefore busyness can often feel like success.  But beware of becoming a ‘busy fool’!  When thinking about your ‘input’, or how you spend your time, you need to ensure that it also has a clear ‘output’ which contributes positively to your business objectives, and therefore your personal ones.  If it does not, then you are undertaking something which is eating into the time you could be spending doing something which makes and keeps you happy.

I’ll leave you with some words from someone who has had great career longevity, just like many advisers - Ken Dodd; “Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess”.  Just make sure that you have the same.


Lee Travis, CEO, New Model Business Academy



[Sponsored article by SimplyBiz]



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Author: IFA Life Sponsored Post
Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:33:55 AM

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25 July 2014 | 12:51:06 PM  David Curley wrote:
Lee, nice one.
As an extension of your thoughts Alison Maitland's book 'Future Work' looks at Flexible and other working practises in busines to help address the Work/Life Balance issues.

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