Life, Liberty, & Happiness

Balance: Does It Really Exist?


henever I find myself in a room full of aspiring young leaders—the conversation eventually moves to the discussion of the desire for balance in their lives.

So, why all the commotion about the topic?  And if balance is all that important, what are people doing to achieve balance?  And for those of us who love our work, where does that end so we invest in our personal lives?  I’m a poster child for the “workaholic” – but it’s largely because I love my work, I have many friendships I’ve developed within the healthcare industry, and a thoroughly enjoy spending time solving problems and dreaming up new business ideas.

The intensity of work in a digital economy head led many of us to search for ways to alleviate stress.  At one level, extreme jobs encourage extreme sports.  But more rationally, working in a 24/7 world takes its toll even when the rewards are high.  But balance means more than just time allocation or throwing the “switch” and going from professional life to personal life.  There was a time when individuals showed up for work Monday through Friday.  The work day was eight- to nine-hours. The boundaries between work and home seemed clear then. But our world has changed and the boundaries have blurred for most of us. Here’s why:

Global economy.
As more skilled workers enter the global labor market and companies outsource or move more jobs to reduce labor costs, people feel pressured to work longer and produce more just to protect their jobs.

International business.
Work continues around the world 24 hours a day for some people. If you work in an international organization, you might be on call around the clock for troubleshooting or consulting.

Advanced communication technology.
Many people now have the ability to work anywhere — from their home, from their car and even on vacation. And some managers expect this.

Longer hours.
Employers commonly ask employees to work longer hours than they’re scheduled. Often, overtime is mandatory. If you hope to move up the career ladder, you may find yourself regularly working more than 40 hours a week to achieve and exceed expectations.

Striking a work-life balance isn’t a one-shot deal. Creating balance in your life is a continuous process. Demands on your time change as your family, interests and work life change. Assess your personal and professional situation every few months to make sure you’re investing your time in those things that matter – what is important to you in building your professional and personal experiences.  Balance doesn’t mean doing everything - examine your priorities and set boundaries. Be firm in what you can and cannot do – or wish and do not wish to do.  Don’t accept personal invitations and take on commitments out of guilt – those are as damaging to our life balance as spending too many hours at the office.

If you find yourself spending time on the things that matter to you – both at work and outside of work – you’ll find life to be much less stressful.  In the end, that seems a logical view of work life balance.

About Dr. Michael Burcham

Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.

“I built and sold a $40M company with Dr. Burcham as my mentor. This is the thing: if you EVER get the opportunity to learn from this man, from that moment forward, you’ll list him as one of the most influential people in your life, even if you live to be 90. And, you’ll know how lucky you were to have that opportunity and you’ll immediately say YES to any chance to be in his presence again—his wisdom is that impactful.”

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann

Former CEO, Letter Logic

“If you are looking for a trusted mentor and coach for yourself or your leadership team, I highly recommend Michael Burcham. He has worked with me as my executive coach for well over a decade now. Our conversations and his feedback have helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills. He’s a trusted advisor that I can confidentially speak with about any issue—and I know I’ll get valued feedback. I highly recommend him.”

Ryan McGrath

CEO, Asset Living

“Dr. Burcham’s depth and breadth of experience makes even the most ADD entrepreneurial leader sit up and take notes! His coaching skills bring out the ‘best you’ possible. He selflessly shares the good, the bad, and the ugly—leaving you with an authentic and moving experience sure to spur action and professional growth!”

Julie Lenzer

Director, U.S. Department of Commerce


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