May You Live Every Day of Your Life

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.”


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.

Are You Letting Your Career Ruin Your Life?

Are You Letting Your Career Ruin Your Life?

Kathleen Byars | April 22, 2017

I’ve been ruminating this week on some of the biggest career mistakes I’ve seen lately…

But there’s one critical error I saw yesterday that will keep you trapped in a life of frenzy, instead of feeling fulfilled and free.

CAREER MISTAKE #3 – “Mistaking commitment for hours on the job”

Here are three reasons why people tend to WORK MORE HOURS than they ever need to and disrupt their own ability to enjoy their life…

1. FEAR (I’ve talked about this in previous articles)


This sounds harmless, but here’s the issue:

Getting MORE work done is NOT always better.

When you become the go-to for “getting things done,” you’ll not only burn yourself out but also stall your career.

You will find yourself caught in an expectation triangle from your peers, your staff, and your boss. They’ll rely on you to:

  • Take on an extra assignment (or two) even when your plate is overflowing
  • Schedule conference calls while on vacation
  • Skip your child’s school play
  • Answer your cell phone at all hours, including weekends

And while it may feel good to be the point person that everyone turns to when there’s a major project to tackle, how will it look when year after year your most valuable career asset is the fact you’ll take one for the team time and time again?

That work ethic works wonders when you’re straight out of grad school. And any corporation will eat up as many hours as you’re willing to give.

Yet, I don’t want to be the tough girl who handles the bulk of the work. ANYONE can do that.

I would rather be a high-level contributor who brings intellect, confidence and results in the workplace.

And goes home each day at a reasonable hour with her cell phone OFF.

That’s why I’ve learned to find super-intriguing career opportunities where I am valued – and well paid for that value – without requiring me to work an insane number of hours.

3. YOU FEEL GUILTY FOR WORKING LESS – and feel awful that other people on the team may be burning the midnight oil while you’re home snuggling your kiddos.

…so you feel compelled to work all those hours to make sure you’re valuable (and to assuage that guilt).

I get it – it stinks to watch others working ridiculous hours, especially if you think they resent you (rather than look in their own mirror).

Don’t get me wrong – being a team player and feeling valuable are important.

BUT…this becomes a problem when you believe that working an insane amount of hours is the way to achieve this.


Plus you’ll never get it all done. There will always be one more email to answer, one more phone call to return, one small detail on your presentation to fix…

But there will NEVER be another life than the one you’ve got now. Getting a lot done isn’t value. It’s work.

There are plenty of ways that you can provide value WITHOUT working 50+ hours per week.

In most cases, I’ve found that the real issue with those struggling with work-life balance is NOT the employer. It’s usually that:

You are a highly successful person that has an inner drive to be productive at all times.

Even when you are “relaxing” you struggle to be calm. It’s impossible to turn your mind off. While watching a Friday night Netflix you constantly pop up and down off the couch until the kids shout “why don’t you just SIT DOWN?”

You’re confusing “being valued” with “if I’m the one that gets work done I will be the most valuable.”

And although you desperately want to get off the fast train and enjoy a slower pace, that inner guilt and anxiety won’t let you.

I know. I get it. I used to jump into my voice mailbox the minute I started driving in order to “get ahead” of my day. I had to filter emails while I sat in the bleachers during my daughter’s basketball game. And although I negotiated wonderful flex schedules with almost every employer I’ve ever worked for, I never managed to work less – I just worked more from a different locale.

The struggle is real.

Anyone else struggle working less while still feeling valued?