Work-Life Balance: Click to watch video or listen to audio:
A colleague on LinkedIn recently suggested I should speak about work-life balance and how I achieved it during the 47 years of my working life.
The bottom line of this CitySpeak blog post article is that it’s all you!
What does the plane stewardess tell you about who needs the oxygen FIRST should the plane experience an emergency?
That’s right, YOU are priority #1!
Listen colleagues, if you don’t take care of yourself FIRST, how can you take care of anybody else?
That’s the whole point of this CitySpeak blog post article: Work-life balance…it’s all you!
Only YOU can achieve the work-life balance YOU need, but you need the courage, knowledge, and confidence in yourself to achieve this.
Allow me to share a little of my experience if you don’t mind.
There were a few years when I struggled to achieve work-life balance, especially during the mid-life years of my life when I was raising a large family, and trying to keep my wife, my children, and my boss happy.
Actually, I did in fact experience a mid-career crisis in 1998 (35 years old), and I thank God I got through it, but that is a story for a different CitySpeak blog post! 😊
Anyway, I thank the men and women who wrote valuable advice books on this subject. Knowledge is power, and I used this knowledge to achieve the work-life balance I needed.
I hope this brief presentation is of value to those of you who feel like you need a “V8” work-life balance adjustment (see 1987 V8 commercial). The fact is that you won’t find work-life balance in a container (like a can of V8)…it’s all you my dear colleagues! 😊
Here’s a quick overview of my work life these past 47 years:
1. Age 12 to 18 (6 years): Worked a variety of part-time “paid” jobs mowing lawns, busing tables, flipping burgers, and selling women’s shoes (remember Malings Shoe Stores?).
2. Age 18 to 23 (5 years): Worked full-time at Bank of Coronado as a Bank Teller, New Accounts, and Utility Clerk.
3. Age 23 to 27 (4 years): Worked part-time at Wells Fargo Bank Escrow and became an entrepreneur, buying a landscape route and starting a bookkeeping and tax business.
4. Age 27 to 43 (16 years): Worked full-time as “permanent” municipal finance officer for several City and Special District organizations.
5. Age 43 to 59 (16 years): Worked full-time as “interim” municipal finance officer while building MuniTemps Municipal Staffing Solutions.
6. Age 59 to 79 (20 years): If God wills, I hope to continue as municipal consultant, trainer, and mentor to help younger professionals interested in business and government.
During my 47 years working life, it was during the 16-year (1990-2006) period when I worked as a full-time permanent municipal finance officer, this is when I faced the toughest challenges maintaining work-life balance.
And it was in 1998 that I experienced my mid-life crisis, which I’ll talk about in a future CitySpeak blog post.
All I will say for now is that mid-life crisis, or rather a mid-career crisis is experienced in the worst possible way when you don’t have a handle on your work-life balance.
So how do you achieve the work-life balance you need to be able to handle the challenges life will inevitably throw at you? My answer is, it’s all you! 😊
What do I mean, it’s all you?
I mean exactly what I said, it’s entirely up to you whether you achieve the work-life balance you need in your life.
Nobody can force you to do anything you don’t want to do!
Never say, “I will lose my job if I don’t work overtime”, or “my boss has very high standards”, or “we just don’t have enough people at work”, or “I don’t have any control over my life”.
Look, I’m not trying to be insensitive. I know there are times when we feel like Atlas, and the weight of the world is on your shoulders. That’s not true.
YOU are in control of your life, at home and at work.
If you ever feel pressured beyond your ability to cope with a situation, simply walk away from the situation, whether at home or at work. I know this is easier said than done.
I have a family member whose spouse controls him and says, “you aint going nowhere”!
Perhaps you know somebody in this situation. Perhaps you are in this situation at work.
STOP. Put your hand out and say, “I need some alone time to think about this”, get your things and say “I’ll be back as soon as I can”.
Believe me, I KNOW there are overbearing people in the world, and it could be your boss at work, your spouse at home, or some other person who doesn’t seem to care about how you’re feeling.
Remember, I am a father of six children, a husband of 35 years, and an employee who worked for more jerks that I care to talk about. I KNOW the pressures of daily life, which was especially challenging during my mid-career. Achieving work-life balance was critical for me, just as critical as “being there” for my children, my wife, and my boss.
With that in mind, I will share what I did to try to maintain the work-life balance that allowed me to meet the challenges of being a husband, a father, an employee, and oh yes, a human being who wanted to find joy, purposes, and meaning in my own life!
Here’s what I did to help me achieve work-life balance:
1. Be open with YOUR feelings and YOUR needs, and let people in your life know what YOU are going through. Let them know you will do your best to manage their expectations and support them, but you first need to take care of YOU. Remember the oxygen mask on the plane?
a. Yes, YOU need to make time to exercise, read/study, play a musical instrument, hike, bike, walk, spend time with friends, etc.
b. Find ways to explore meditation or prayer. Our mind, body, spirit, and soul are all integrated, so explore the power of prayer and meditation to find ways to achieve the work-life balance you need in your life.
c. My greatest ideas come to me when I’m exercising. Hiking outdoors is a spiritual and physical healing to the mind, body and spirit. Try it!
d. Remember, you can’t help anybody if you’re not well. Take care of YOU first, then take care of everybody else.
2. Prioritize your to do list and your day, and establish and manage the reasonable expectations of your boss. If your boss has unreasonable expectations, DEAL WITH IT IMMEDIATELY and negotiate “reasonable” expectations for the task or project.
a. The only thing is that you have to STICK TO IT, or provide regular updates to your boss so there are no surprises.
3. Take regular breaks throughout the day. Take a walk around the office, around the building, or around the block. If you work full-time, take 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon, and a full hour for lunch. Leave the workplace whenever possible so you can refresh yourself where you have quiet time to pray or meditate before and after you eat.
a. Be thankful for your meal, your job, and your life. People who are grateful for what they have are healthier and achieve greater work-life balance.
4. Take regular vacations from work. If you get two weeks off a year, figure out what refreshes you the most. Some working professionals need to take the entire two weeks off, while others are happy taking four short vacations throughout the year rather than one longer vacation, especially when they have kids in school.
a. By the way, take a vacation from your kids and your spouse when necessary. Just communicate it to them.
b. A vacation from your kids can be achieved by going on a weekly standing date with your spouse every Friday or other day that works.
c. There’s so much to be said about taking vacations, including the movie “What About Bob” where Dr. Marvin prescribes the medication to “take a vacation from your problems”, but that is beyond the scope of this work-life professional article. 😊
5. Utilize technology to systematize and automate the routine and mundane activities of your life that use up 80% of your work day but only contributes 20% of the value of your job. Remember the 80/20 Pareto Principle, this applies here, and when used to work smarter rather than harder, this can help you achieve work-life balance you may desperately need in your life right now.
There are so many other things I would love to talk about regarding what I did in my life to achieve work-life balance during my 47 years working various jobs and my 35-year marriage to the same woman (not an easy achievement for me or my wife!), so call or email me so we can chat about your unique challenges with work-life balance.
This is John Herrera, President of MuniTemps – Municipal Staffing Solutions and the CitySpeak blog podcast saying all for now.
I wish you the best on your journey to achieve your own work-life balance! ❤️
Please call or email me to discuss the many activities I didn’t list above.
I would love to share with you what I have learned about achieving a healthy work-life balance during my work experience.