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Stay Focused, Stay Balanced, Stay Healthy: My Thoughts

The following were my thoughts after Gary first sent me an email about his health and work-life balance, that email has been transformed into a two part article titled Stay Focused, Stay Balance, Stay Healthy (Part 1 [3], Part 2 [4]).

When I first started working at my first company, there was a training class on Work-Life Balance and a panel of managers there to share their experience. The panel was quite diverse from an experience perspective, they varied in tenure from ten years to thirty and ran up and down the organizational charts. That’s when a well respected manager of 20-something years of service said to us – “I work forty hours a week, get the job done, and I don’t sacrifice my family, my life, or my health.” He said he left work at 5 PM every single day so that he could be home to see his daughters. This was his job, but this wasn’t his life.

His perspective hit us like a punch to the gut. Here we were, young bucks thinking that the company wanted hard charging workhorses to push sixty-plus hour weeks to get the job done. The reality is that you can get ahead if you do a good job and only work the standard forty hours most of the time (there will always be times when you need to work hard but that should be an exception, not the rule).

When Gary wrote me that story about his medical problems, that hit the same chord. Gary was on the work side of the work-life pendulum and it affected his health. When he tried to get back to a more balanced life, his employer probably thought he was shirking or past his prime. Perhaps he transitioned down too quickly. Whatever the case may be, he was outputting less and it affected his employer’s perception of him. But, when you’re forced through a battery of medical exams, it puts your life in perspective and I felt that perspective needed to have a voice.

You might think Gary has an axe to grind against his former employer. He doesn’t. We’ve traded nearly two dozen emails (at least!) and he never once mentioned being let go until that story. In fact, that part of the story surprised even me.

Whose fault is it? You might be surprised to hear that I think it’s my fault he was fired.

He writes about how the corporate mentality of today is to run a workhorse until they’re burned out and gone. This wasn’t the case when he first started because the employer-employee relationship has changed dramatically since then. I often write about how you aren’t dating your job [5] and how you should look for a new job with more pay, more opportunity, or more responsibility and growth potential. Companies are forced to work their employees hard because there is little incentive to go slow and grow stars because those being groomed could easily jump ship in a heartbeat.

The moral of this tale?

If you don’t have work-life balance, you will have neither.

Thankfully Gary persevered, his health improved, and was able to share that story and the many more that will soon follow.