I wrote a blog recently that seems to have struck a chord. In it I talked about how life is like a pizza – you can only stretch the dough so far and cut it in so many pieces. A few people have asked for more guidance on how you start putting your own pizza together. So here’s the basic recipe.
For me life divides into four key parts – and rarely do they take up equal proportions of our time, effort and yes, passion.
Relationships are about the amount of time we want and need to spend with others. It extends well beyond family and may take in friends and even colleagues. The amount of time we need for relationships can be driven by everything from psychological type (of both us and our loved ones) to the size of our families. Demands change too – as I am sure my colleagues with recent additions to their families will testify!
The challenge of successful relationships is that you have to give what those important to you need – not just what you can make time for.
Beliefs are about how much time we need to invest in things we feel passionately about. That could be anything from religion and politics to fundraising or charity work. Some of us have a huge need to put things back into society or make the lives of others better. We often hear about “vocations” which is that rare but powerful mixture of when beliefs and career come into alignment.
Leisure covers many things from sports and hobbies to holidays. I know first-hand how much energy I get from coaching sport. For others it is about playing. However it is a big time commitment that draws me away from other things. Luckily I coach my son at both football and rugby – but equally that’s time I can’t spend with others.
And finally, of course, there’s your career. For many of us that will take up more waking hours from Monday to Friday than the other three put together. And it is not just the hours at your desk. It is the time you spend commuting to work – and the time you are “absent” even when you are home. You know, those hours when you are thinking about work even when you are supposedly spending time on one or more of the other slices.
Work-life balance is about where you career fits in with the other three quadrants of life. You can only stretch the dough so far before the cracks appear – and one or more segments of your life starts to suffer. Not addressing your beliefs can leave you feeling unfulfilled. Neglect your relationships and you’ll lose friends and those dearest to you. Don’t get enough leisure time and your health and well-being suffer. It is complicated.
If you decide your career is the number one priority other things will usually have to give. You need friends and family who accept your absences – physical and mental. You will get less leisure time and may need to park your beliefs.
So where do you begin? Well some people start with the formula:-
Life – (Relationships + Beliefs + Leisure) = Career
That implies your career has to fit around everything else. Of course you can do lots of formulas depending on which quadrant is ultimately the most important to you. And that for me is the key starting point.
For example if sport is central to your life then the formula might be more like:-
Life – Leisure = Career + Beliefs + Relationships
For most of us there will be a quadrant that is the foundation of our life – the cornerstone if you like. Knowing the area that has to be right for us to function as an individual is a journey of discovery. And a journey we may have to make many times as our lives and priorities change.