Food for thought

How Balanced is Your Life?

by Karsten Drath

I don’t particularly like the term “work-life-balance”. This has several reasons. For one, most people use this term without reflecting about the true meaning behind. The concept of work-life-balance implies that work and life are two opposite sides of a scale. It means that if you work you don’t actually live. This is a pity since most of us work a lot. In fact the idea behind makes a lot of sense for industrial workers at a factory line but does not apply for people in the knowledge industry. Matter of fact what really counts is a more holistic “life balance” which is far more challenging than just levelling out work and life. It can generally be said that a manager’s ability to bounce back from hardships will be particularly challenged if crises or setbacks are experienced in several areas of their life. The more areas are perceived as unfulfilling or even problematic, the more detrimental the effect will be on the level of available resilience. 

What about you? 

What is your life situation like? Read through the following passages on the various areas of life and let the questions give you food for thought. How satisfied are you in general with the respective area of your life? Make use of the questions in each section to reflect on that area of your life. Make sure you have enough time. Be as honest to yourself as possible. Then rate that area on a scale from 0 (meaning ‘not at all’) to 10 (meaning ‘completely’).

Career

  • How happy are you with your choice of career? 
  • How satisfied are you with your current career level? 
  • How do you compare with your peer group e.g. former fellow students?
  • To which degree do you love what you are doing? 
  • All in all, how much do your job and your career fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Money

  • To which degree does your income allow you to live without worry? 
  • To which degree do you have enough money to live your need for freedom and autonomy? 
  • Do you have enough funds available to fulfil your need for status and self-realization? 
  • All in all, how much do your financial means fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10? 

Relationship

  • How comfortable do you feel in your relationship? 
  • How much do you trust your partner and how open are you with one another? 
  • How much does your partner inspire you? 
  • How fulfilling is your sex life in your relationship? 
  • Do you feel loved by your partner?
  • All in all, how much does your relationship fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Family

  • To which degree do you feel wholeheartedly supported by your family?
  • How harmonic and relaxed is your family life?
  • How much time do you make available to spend with your family? To which degree are you happy with that?
  • All in all, how much does your family fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Friends

  • To which degree do you feel wholeheartedly supported by your friends?
  • Do you have people amongst your friends you who you can entirely trust?
  • To which degree do you reveal your inner world towards your friends? 
  • How much time do you make available to spend with your friends? To which degree are you happy with that?
  • All in all, how much do your friends fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10? 

Social engagement

  • Are you actively involved in political, social, church or voluntary work? 
  • To which degree do these activities give you a sense of satisfaction and purpose? 
  • To which degree do these activities give you a sense of appreciation? 
  • How much time do you give yourself for these activities? To which degree are you happy with that?
  • All in all, how much does your social engagement fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Personal growth

  • To which degree do you know your strengths and weaknesses? 
  • To which degree are you generally at peace with yourself as person? 
  • To which degree do you love yourself? 
  • Have you set yourself any goals for your own development? 
  • How much does your lifestyle enable you to grow as a person and manager? 
  • All in all, how much do your job and your career fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Health 

  • How happy are you with your physical and mental state of health? 
  • To which degree do you take good care of your health?
  • Do you sleep enough? To which degree do you feel well-rested and full of energy?
  • To which degree are you following a healthy diet?
  • All in all, how much does your health fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

 

Body

  • To what extent do you feel comfortable in your own skin? 
  • How happy are you with your level of fitness?
  • How happy are you with your physical appeal?
  • To which degree do you feel attractive?
  • All in all, how much does your body fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Soul

  • To which degree do you feel emotionally stable?
  • How often do you feel contentness and joy? To which degree are you happy with that?
  • How often are you concerned with worrying and negative thoughts? To which degree are you happy with that?
  • All in all, how much do your soul and emotionality fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Higher Power

  • To which degree do you have access to believing in a higher power like god?
  • How much does this believe help you to master challenges?
  • Which roles do religion and spirituality play in your life? To which degree are you happy with that?
  • All in all, how much does your access to a higher power fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10?

Meaning

  • Do you know what values you stand for?  
  • To which degree does your way of living represent the values which are crucial for you?
  • To which degree is your life positively meaningful to you?
  • To what extent to you have a higher goal which you would like to accomplish in your lifetime? 
  • To which degree is your life inspiring for other people?
  • All in all, how much does the meaning in your life fulfil you on a scale from 0 to 10? 

 

Bringing it all together

 So far, so good. Now enter your scale values in the following overview.  Each segment of the circle represents one area of your life and each dotted circle represents two scale points. 

Starting at the centre enter your scale values and hatch that area for the sake of better visibility. You might also want to ask a person you trust to give you feedback in this way. 

 

So, what do you think?

As I mentioned before balancing all major aspects of one’s life is a far more demanding challenge than just work vs. life – but this is what we all somehow have to juggle with. And this is true on all managerial levels as well as for employees. You may find that there are some interdependencies between different aspects. You may also find that not all if any segment actually scores a full 10.

Here are a couple of questions for your own reflection:

  • What thoughts cross your mind when you look at these areas of your life? 
  • If the areas you completed were a wheel, how well would it roll, how bumpy would the ride be? 
  • Which areas of your life do you focus on too much?  
  • Which areas of your life need more energy and focus invested in them?
  • Where does your energy mostly come from? Are you taking enough care about this segment?

Karsten Drath works with top managers and their teams to improve their leadership effectiveness and resilience. He is a certified Executive Coach and Psychotherapist, a published author and keynote speaker, and is one of the Managing Partners of Leadership Choices, an international consultancy focusing on leadership development at Top Management level. Looking back on more than 15 years of own leadership experience in several international roles he knows the challenges that come with the executive lifestyle and also how to cope with them.

www.leadership-choices.com

 

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