Dan Griffin works to balance it all—career, family, travel, you name it. But at the end of the day, his work-life balance is focused on his family.
A friend of mine used to say, “Balance? Of course I know balance. It’s what I pass when I go from one extreme to the other.” While a challenge, balance, in general, is something I strive for in my life. Few things these days may be more important than the idea of work-life balance. What work-life balance means to me may not be what it means to you. I own a small business that is just over two years old. I will respond to business emails and work on business documents at any time of the day seven days a week—literally. In addition, I am writing my first novel and working on two other books. This could drive others to the brink of insanity. However, I also go to the gym every day, take time to play tennis, meditate and go to my recovery support meeting, meet with friends, and have certain times of the day that are off-limits for doing work (unless very extenuating circumstances), namely the evening from when I pick up my daughter at school until when she goes to sleep. I can say this with confidence: simply aspiring toward work-life balance helps us define what it means for us and move us toward having it in our lives.
My job requires me to be out of town anywhere from two to four weeks a month. This kind of travel schedule really challenges me to dig deep to find some balance. Add to that, on the “life” side of things I am a husband and a father of a two-and-a-half year old. Guess who is picking up all of the slack while I am out of town? That’s right, my wonderful wife. I could make a convincing argument as to why it is so difficult for us to have anything like work-life balance in our lives. However, the content of that argument would also point to exactly why it is so important for both of us to strive to have it in our lives. For instance, my daughter’s morning and bedtime routines can be stressful for one person doing them. I could bother my wife and call her and my daughter because I am out of town and want to talk to them, but we have found that sending short videos via my iPhone recorded each night and morning works great. Or maybe my wife Nancy, who is stressed as it is with her full-time job, has a difficult time just doing some of the self-care things. So I arrange for her to have a babysitter while I am out of town as a surprise. Or I support her taking extra time to go to her yoga class when I am in town. I could continue with numerous examples of how I have tried to incorporate work-life balance into our family as a core value. But it took work for us to come up with these methods. Our commitment to balance and our fundamental belief in its importance allows us to always be assessing how we are doing and supporting one another.
One fact seems to be clear: Life will not just give you work-life balance. If you passively wait for it to happen, you’re relying on sheer luck. It is in the discipline and the constant failing to achieve balance that I have found its value. There will never be a perfect balance. Life simply doesn’t work that way. I believe this adamantly: there is nobody who cannot find some degree of work-life balance. We all can make excuses or argue why our situation is so [fill in the adjective of your choice] that it prevents us from being able to think about balance let alone incorporate it into our lives. It is a choice. A choice we make every day and some days are better than others. Some have more work. Others have more life. In fact, as I finish writing this piece I am sitting on our sun porch with my daughter, whose daycare closed at noon, who has just woken up from her nap, and we are about to go to our local park. And part of work-life balance for me is knowing that it all comes to down to it, she is the most important part of my life. That means being able to say that this is good enough because I get to spend time with my daughter now.
Photo by cogdogblog/Flickr