The timing of this letter could not be more perfect, or ironic for that matter. Months ago our team sat down and set out the schedule for what we’d like to feature in each publication of The Rainmaker Moment. As we looked at the calendar, it just seemed like a perfect fit to write about “Work/Life Balance” during the busiest time of year for most of our clients. Knowing that March and April are the most stressful times for most accountants in public practice, why not focus on achieving greater balance in all that we do?
At the time when I committed to writing this, I did not know that I would literally be days away from having my third child and staring the truth of trying to juggle career/home life, personal/professional priorities, time in the office/time away, etc. right in the face. But here I am, with baby #3 set to arrive in just a few short days and I’m faced with addressing my very own work/life balance and finding my equilibrium that will still contribute to the health and success of the company as well as the nurturing and support of my little family.
Well, here’s the truth about it. Work/Life balance is utter nonsense. It simply doesn’t exist. To me, the word “balance” implies that all things are evenly distributed; all things are equal. When we’re “balanced”, everything is 50/50 and neither side of the scale is overloaded. But think about it? When was the last time this was true in your life? It’s just not the way that it works in our hectic, busy, corporate lives. I don’t think many of us can say that we truly spend 50% of our time focused on our business lives and 50% of our time focused on our personal lives.
To me, it’s more about work/life integration. Sometimes work is going to come first. Maybe you have a big proposal meeting to prep for, or an “A” client needs some urgent help on an unexpected matter, or maybe your firm is focused on a big merger opportunity and you need to focus most of your energy on that. And maybe, because of all of these exciting professional events in your life, you have to miss your child’s soccer game or theatre production, or maybe you’ll have to miss a social outing with your college friends that you’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It stinks, and in the moment it can feel devastating, but c’est la vie! The inverse is true though, too. Sometimes the big “life” stuff is going to take precedent and you’ll have to walk away from a project at work for the birth of a child, that long awaited vacation or just a good old fashioned personal day.
What I’ve learned about work/life integration, though, is to walk away from the guilt. Don’t feel guilty about missing personal obligations. Do what you can, when you can. Don’t feel guilty about taking a break from work, either. We’re all better at what we do when we’ve had some time to refresh, renew and revitalize. The other major key to work/life integration? Do what you love. When you love what you do, it never feels like a chore or a “job” but feels more like something you simply have to do. The guilt subsides when you recognize that the work you are doing is fulfilling in more ways than one.
As you head in to the last few weeks of this crazy time of year, take a moment to reflect on the work that you you’re doing. What do you love? What do you simply tolerate? What action steps can you take to delegate and minimize the work that you do not love and focus on the work that truly makes you tick? Work/life balance may not be possible. However, work/life integration certainly is. It’s about give and take, and recognizing that it some days will be all about work and some days need to be all about life. Embrace the process, or lack thereof, and do what you love.
Executive Vice President