Monday, January 12, 2009

Jay Rao

Achieving proper balance in our Professional, Family, and Personal lives is one to the most difficult tasks we face on a day-to-day basis. For example, throughout our professional lives, many of us take on increased job related responsibilities that cause us to compromise the time we spend with personal and family activities. This kind of imbalance causes us to lose track of what is important to us and can result in broken relationships, poor health, and an unfulfilled life.

I have a lot of experience in counseling others on how to achieve a better balance in their lives. I use a simple model I call the “Three Circles Diagram” to illustrate and provide a guideline for achieving balance in our lives.

Each circle above represents our Professional, Family, and Personal lives. Within each circle, every one of us has many roles we play, goals we strive to achieve, and priorities we must determine. There are also outside pressures that place expectations on us for how we prioritize and behave. We must manage and align our expectations with our goals. Problems typically occur when there are disconnects between our goals and the expectations placed upon us.

In the Professional circle, typical roles include manager, supervisor, mentor, advisor, presenter, instructor, learner, salesperson, peer, etc. Goals might include achieving company performance measures, getting a promotion, or getting a salary increase. Expectations from your boss or from direct reports may vary from your goals, thus keeping you from achieving balance. I have witnessed many professionals that have allowed their Professional circle to get larger and larger with the addition of responsibilities and promotions, which have in turn, caused their Family and Personal circles shrink.

In the Family circle roles include father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, son, daughter, etc. Typical goals might include being home for dinner each night, having a family vacation each year, attending our children’s performances, sporting events, and recitals, and having periodic “date nights” with our spouses.

As we age, our Personal circle is the one that shrinks the fastest. Each of us has certain passions outside of our professional and family lives. Some roles include friend, volunteer, runner, tennis player, weight lifter, photographer, animal lover, musician, traveler, etc. We should define or goals for each of these areas including a time commitment to each and / or performance measures for certain activities. This circle ensures we stay in good physical health.

In order to achieve proper balance and fulfillment in our lives, each circle must be the same size as the others over time. To maximize our success within each circle, we must effectively focus all our energies on our prioritized activities on a daily basis. For instance, we should not be thinking about our family or personal tasks when we are in a company board meeting, just as we should not be engrossed with our jobs or personal activities when we are on a family outing.

With today’s technology, attaining balance is now easier than ever. The Internet, email, video conferencing, and cell phones have enabled us to work more efficiently thus allowing many of us to work from home.

I use a worksheet to help individuals identify their roles, goals, priorities, and expectations for each circle. Taking the time to develop a “Three Circles” worksheet or prioritized plan like this will help you better attain balance and fulfillment.

No comments: