I’ve read countless articles and blog posts about work/life balance. They generally focus on the rigors of managing a business in a 24-hour-a-day cycle. Some are from the manager’s perspective, and others are from the worker’s point-of-view.
Most articles mention sacrifices. How families, spouses, kids, friends, and even our own health and welfare, are forced into the back seat while our hero focuses on the challenges of his/her career path. There’s usually some kernel of wisdom…justification for the decisions being made by all involved.
Achievement rarely happens without hard work, focus, determination, sacrifice, and making the (hopefully) right choices. What are the right choices? That varies for each person.
One thing that doesn’t vary for each person is the value of their time. Time is the most precious and fleeting commodity in our lives. We can’t control time. We only control how we spend it.
Attention is the currency we use for spending time. Like time, our attention is limited. Unlike time, we control our attention. We decide what deserves it, and what doesn’t.
Work/life balance isn’t really about the demands of the job. It’s not about the oppressive boss who demands our continuous availability, or employees who need input and direction at all hours. It’s definitely not about checking our email or social feed every fifteen minutes.
Regardless of its details, if there is such a thing as work/life balance, it comes down to two things:
- Realizing that we decide where to focus our attention.
- Whether we decide consciously or not, our actions make our attention decisions a reality.
Photo credit: Diane Anderson (my wonderful mother-in-law), who focuses (pun intended) a lot of her attention on making beautiful art with her camera.