“Work+Life Fit in 5 Days”–What is Work+Life Fit? (Day 1)

For the next five days—here and on my Fast Company blog—I will give you the work+life fit basics to better manage the way work fits into your life in 2010…Work+Life Fit in 5 Days!  This series will give you the power to partner with your employer to find the fit that meets your needs as well as the needs of your business.

These “how to” basics come from the same Work+Life Fit™ process I’ve presented to tens of thousands of individuals over the past 10 years in my book, Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You (Riverhead, 2005), in speeches, in workshops and in my consulting practice helping organizations develop and implement flexibility strategies.   It’s the same information I’ve shared with groups at Pepsi, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, Harvard Business School, the U.S. Navy and even the United Nations!

The Work+Life Fit™ process is for real people who have real jobs and real lives.   It shows you step-by-step how to create a solution that considers your needs as well as the needs of your job.

It’s one thing for me to say it works, but check out what others say in the testimonials on the Client Success page of my website.

Let’s get started!  Each day’s posts will highlight a different work+life fit “how to” from the three step Work+Life Fit process.  These basics are the building blocks upon which we all can flexibly manage our unique work+life fit day-to-day and at major personal and professional transitions.  Each post will include:

  • An excerpt from my book, Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You (Riverhead, 2005) which celebrates its 5th year anniversary of publication in paperback this month!
  • Takeaway Action Tips to get you started quickly
  • Additional resources and insights.

One last thing…if you find one or all of the Work+Life Fit™ basics presented over the next five days helpful, please SHARE!  Yes, the news about the current state of our work and lives can be discouraging.  But if given the tools, we can take positive steps to make our personal reality better which helps us all get back on the road to recovery.

What is Work+Life Fit? (Day 1)

Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You:book matters

“What is work+life fit? Like the term work/life balance, work+life fit describes how work interacts with the rest of your life.  But it doesn’t simply imply that your ultimate goal is to find a ‘balance’ by dividing your time and energy equally between two separate spheres.  Instead, work+life fit more accurately reflects reality and the need to ‘fit’ work flexibly and creatively into your life as a whole.  In other words, given the realities in your work and personal life, work may at this time be the predominate focus of your life, while at other times it may only fit partially, or maybe even not at all…” (Click here for more and to print or download PDF)

Takeaway Action Tips:

Work+life fit is about possibilities. That being said, by all means continue to use the term “balance” to describe your goal as long as it isn’t the “thing I constantly don’t have and can’t seem to get.”  My experience is that for most people, balance has become a deficit model.   In order to find creative solutions you have to be open to possibilities.

It’s about time and energy.  Here’s where too many people get lost.  We think work+life fit is a matter of managing our time better.  And, to a degree, it is.  But, it is also about managing our energy so that we have access to as much of it as possible.   For example, many of us are being asked to do more work in either the same or fewer hours.  So, we’re worrying more, sleeping less, not going to the gym, and grabbing fast food for meals.  It may seem like this gives us more hours and minutes to do the work, but we actually end up with less time and energy.  Sources of energy like sleep, relaxation, exercise, and eating well aren’t optional activities that can be eliminated to get more time.  Their net energy benefits as well as the hours and minutes in the day are the resources you need to manage work and life in today’s reality.

There’s no right work+life fit answer.  Everyone is different. Like snowflakes. One of the reasons I love my job is that I’ve never heard the same work+life fit reality twice.  Realizing there is no right answer or “balance” can be very freeing.  It eliminates the harsh judgment we put on ourselves but also on others.  All of our work and personal realities are completely unique at a given point in time.  All that matters is what is possible today, where you are.

The “+” matters. Believe or not, that little symbol is important.  Too many of us still think that work and life are two separate spheres.   Maybe they were back in 1940 when you went to the factory, cranked out widgets during a standard 8-hour shift, shut the factory door and went home until the next day.  No longer.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t try to create a fit that keeps work and life as separate as possible.  For some people, that will be a goal.  But the point is we need to start working on a solution from the premise that work and life are one and the same.  So whenever you see a “-“ or a “/” between work and life, mentally replace it with a “+.”  That’s reality.

It’s an everyone issue (not just moms). Actively and flexibly managing your work+life fit is something that we all need to do, not just parents and mothers.

Understand that the trends transforming work and life go way beyond you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the power to take action. Work and life have fundamentally changed.   In order to understand why managing your work+life fit is so critical, it’s important to understand how broad economic, sociological and demographic trends have converged over the past ten years. Why?  Because you realize that the issue is not that there’s something is wrong with you, or that you can’t “hack” it.  Understanding the macro context doesn’t mean you don’t have the power to take action and make your fit better, but it does makes it easier to understand why you need to exercise that power.  Here’s some recent research about today’s work+life fit reality that reinforces, it’s not just you:

40% of employees in a recent Harris Interactive poll said their productivity was negatively impacted by layoffs.  Sixty-six percent said that morale has suffered and people are less motivated, and 64% report that there’s too much work and not enough people to do it.

Watson Wyatt/World at Work’s 2009/2010 U.S. Strategic Rewards Survey found:

  • 41% of employees think changes the business made has had an adverse impact on quality/customer service.
  • 44% of employees said there’s been a negative impact on productivity.
  • 79% of employers said there’s been a negative impact on employee workloads.
  • 64% of employers felt employee work-life balance has been adversely impacted.
  • 69% of employers said cost-cutting made managing work-related stress worse.

A recent Career Builder survey of employers painted an equally dismal picture in terms of potential relief from increased hiring.  Sixty-one percent of employers said there would be no additional hiring, and only 20% said they would increase headcount in 2010.  This is an increase from 14% in 2010, but still most employers won’t be hiring full-time employees.

For the next part of today’s segment, click here to go to my Fast Company blog– Seeing the Possibilities (Day 1)

Entire “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series:

Day 1: What is Work+Life Fit? / Seeing the Possibilities

Day 2:  Challenge Roadblocks — Redefine Success:  Money and Prestige / Advancement and Caregiving

Day 3:  Challenge Roadblocks — Fear

Day 4:  What Do You Want? / Your Internal Guidance and My Story

Day 5:  Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan–Making It a Win-Win

Want more?

  • Order the book with the entire Work+Life Fit process: in print or on Kindle at www.Amazon.com
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13 thoughts on ““Work+Life Fit in 5 Days”–What is Work+Life Fit? (Day 1)

  1. “Understand that the trends transforming work and life go way beyond you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the power to take action.”

    Couldn’t agree more, Cali. All the changes that are happening in the workplace can feel like insanity. But people have a choice about whether it’s going to drive them crazy or not.

    I think historically organisations have – knowingly or not – been run along paternalistic lines, so the relationships they’ve engendered with people is very Parent – Child. As organisations slowly begin to become more Adult, it’s down to individuals to recognise that they’re grown-ups too and have a role to play in creating their own experience of work, good or bad.

    1. Christine,

      That is the goal of the series–to give people the “how to” tools and power to take the lead and manage their work+life fit in a way that meets their needs and the needs of the business. It can be done. It must be done, but my experience is that most people have no idea how.

  2. You are so right about managing our energy better. I see so many women giving up sleep to get it all done. I guess it’s a matter of figuring out when we have the most energy during the day and being productive at that time.

    1. I know! We have to stop only admiring the people who boast, “I only get 4 hours of sleep a night,” and start also rewarding those who say, “I make sure I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.” Too often I find people who say that sound like they are almost apologizing. Let me publicly and proudly state for the record–I always try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I love it. I am proud of it. If I don’t get it, I miss it terribly. 🙂

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