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May You Live Every Day of Your Life

Kathleen Byars | April 28, 2017

I came across a beautiful quote this week on work-life balance from former KPMG CEO, Eugene O’Kelly.

“What if I hadn’t worked so hard? What if…I had actually used…my position to be a role model for balance? Had I done so intentionally, who’s to say that, besides having more time with my family, I wouldn’t have also been even more focused at work? More creative? More productive? It took inoperable late stage brain cancer to get me to examine things from this angle.”

Damn.

And he’s right. Researchers have found that employees get more done – and do so at a higher quality level – when they have work-life balance; meaning more control over their time and can better anticipate any disruptions to that schedule.

When leaders focus on the objective – and not how many hours a staffer spends working – employees are more engaged, more creative, and more productive.

Huh, who knew?

I was never praised by my employer for the number of hours I worked, yet I always had the distinct impression that I was valued for my dedication to the firm. (Note…this was inside my head just like it may be inside yours…I had to learn to how to get rid of this deep-seeded notion).

Study after study shows that work-life balance which includes taking time off, working a predictable, yet flexible schedule and immersing oneself in guilt-free, long vacations where there is absolutely no contact with the office stimulates high productivity, longer employee retention, and improved staff communication.

And guess what? You can create that for yourself right now. As I’ve written in previous articles, waiting for some external force such as a boss, a shift in company culture, or a new job to create boundaries for you isn’t going to happen.

The secret sauce is in re-wiring your concept of what a valuable employee looks like and understanding how to create value for your employer so they have no qualms about granting you a more flexible schedule. Are some employers more generous than others? You bet. Yet once you’ve made up your mind that you want to be compensated for your value rather than your time, you’ll be surprised at how simple this actually is to do.

So what do you do that your boss, your company, and your colleagues find priceless? Are you an amazing orator? Spectacular mediator? Incredible with remembering details? A true leader of people? You’ve got secret sauce – we all do. Market that. Make that your core competency and solve other people’s problems using your unique ability. Work less, not more, yet hone in on your true value and make that your calling card at the office.

And all the other stuff? The late night hours, after-work cell phone calls, early morning emails. Stop it. Seriously. Just stop it. You’re too valuable. You need to create space to be the genius that you are. And that comes by letting go – not doing more.

And what would you do with your extra time? Reconnect with your kids? Deepen your connection with your spouse? Spend time giving back to the world in a meaningful way? Or heck, you could simply sharpen up your tennis game! The possibilities for rejuvenation are endless.

The point is that work doesn’t have to take precedence over life. Creating a rich, meaningful life is about living according to your core values and putting effort into all areas of life, not just one or two. It’s a life of deep contentment, connection, and joy.

And the kicker is that science supports our quest for a flexible work-life balance that’s within our control. It’s time to shelve the after-hours cell phone calls and leave the laptop at work. Maybe even be so daring to leave the office an hour or two early several times each week? You’ll not only increase your joy in life but also be one heck of an amazing employee.

After all, science says so.

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