Posted by Ashram News Reporter on May 15, 2004


PVAF has been celebrating YOUTH DAYS this week by running several knowledge based articles on developing your youth into adulthood.....And today there is a discussion on a perpetual dilemma of lifestyle in industrial civilization where"

creating wealth becomes an obsession...
at a personal cost of
happiness, wife, children, family, relations, friends
ultimately at the cost of that wealth earned at
so much person loss and sacrifice....

D. Quinn Mills is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and the author of Having It All . . . and in  "Making It Work: Six Steps for Putting Both Your Career and Your Family First" tells YOU how to create wealth and enjoy life with your loved ones.......Please visit Canadian Globe and Mail to read Professor Mills..... or to read Professor Mills  on this PVAF veDik Lifestyle Learning Web Site click on the next line.....

Work and family:
six steps to having both....
But It's an illusion to think that
balance will create itself.....

Canadian Globe and Mail: Friday, May 7, 2004 - Page C1

I have been a professor at the Harvard Business School for many years. Many of my friends are now far along in their careers and have deep regrets about how little of themselves they shared with their spouses and children as they were growing up.

Many of my students have told me they are afraid the same thing will happen to them -- that years from now, they'll finish their careers with deep regret about all they missed of family life. But other students have an entirely different concern -- that in a few years, they'll feel compelled to abandon promising careers to have a family.

Work and family: People struggle so much with giving each their due. I have had the personal blessing of wonderful children and have struggled with balance for many years. Over that time, I have discovered several techniques to best manage the competing demands of work and home.

Here's a six-step, user-friendly action plan to help you find balance between your work and personal lives.

Step 1: Commit to wanting: both a career and family

That means rethinking your priorities. Many people despair of having both a fulfilling career and a loving family. So they put one in front of the other and, not surprisingly, never reach a balance between the two. If they put career first, they end life regretting what they've missed in family life; if they put family first, they end life regretting what they failed to achieve in their professional lives. A major purpose of achieving career/family balance is to live our lives without these serious sorts of regret.

So at the outset, we should decide that we want both a career and a family, and then go about rethinking our priorities to make both possible.

Step 2: Pursue a process: that creates balance

It's an illusion to think that balance will create itself. It won't; you have to create it.

To do that, we must first and foremost be honest with ourselves about our priorities. We have to let some things of lesser priority go -- and then be satisfied with our choices. To attain balance between work and family, we must establish boundaries early on between the two so that one isn't sacrificed to the other. And we must define what is success for us, not others, and stick with it. This decreases the guilt and anxiety that result from second-guessing yourself.

Take responsibility for pursuing balance. It will not emerge without effort and it cannot simply be stumbled upon.

Step 3: Make choices and accept the consequences

Balance means knowing our priorities. For most of us, the two top priorities are family and career -- so we should be prepared to set other things aside for them.

That means we have to give up what we don't want badly enough. If we clear the decks to minimize the choices that will otherwise assail us -- the temptations to do this or that which generate indecision and tension -- we will learn to say no without feeling guilty.

If we want to give as much to our families and our careers as we can, we must minimize the tradeoffs between them. Tradeoffs are always a win-lose situation because we're choosing between our first priorities. But it is not win-lose to choose between our first and second priorities. When we give up something of secondary importance to get something of major importance, that's a win, not a tradeoff.

Once we've made our choices, we should be satisfied with them. Feelings of guilt and anxiety result from second-guessing ourselves. Letting go of the things we don't want badly enough shouldn't result in any guilt when we say no. We should be proud of ourselves for saying no because we've saved time for the things most important to us.

Balance comes from being happy with what we've chosen.

Step 4: Choose a career: that supports balance

It is crucial that we choose a career path wisely.

Some careers simply don't permit us to attain balance. It's another dreadful illusion to believe that we can choose whatever job or career we like best without regard to our families, and can somehow find time for our families, too. In reality, we have to choose our jobs and careers carefully to be sure they permit us to have enough time for our families.

Not all careers provide the possibility for balance -- some require too much time at work; some require too much travel; some impose too much emotional strain. We must choose careers in which balancing actions are possible.

If we don't have balance in our current work situation, we can stay and try to change the corporate culture of our current work place; move laterally within the organization; or, if all else fails, leave.

We must not be afraid to leave our current employment if we aren't given the space to create balance; otherwise, we risk ending up with regret for all the things we've missed.

When making a career decision, we must assess the major aspects of the career path that influence our ability to achieve balance; then we must choose wisely with balance in mind.

Step 5: Involve your loved ones: in creating balance

Balance can't be created in a vacuum. It's a significant illusion to think that we're able to figure out by ourselves what is best for our families. The reality is that no matter how well-intentioned we are, we can be mistaken about what is most important to those we love and what they really hope for from us.

For each of us, our family is a team, and it's very important to involve all team members in decisions that affect the family, especially including our decisions about our own career/family balance.

So we must make our family a part of our choices. It's too easy to rationalize our own choices as being in the best interests of our loved ones -- they might not really be that at all, but merely what it is that we want to do. Involving our families will help keep us from making serious mistakes.

So we must get acquainted with the expectations and priorities of each family member. We must stay in the moment. To balance the things that are most important to us , we must be aware of where we are -- when at home, focus on family; when at work, focus on work.

We must also make sure that each parent achieves balance between work and family. Unbalanced parents don't make for a balanced marriage or family.

And we must find creative ways of meeting the needs of our children --and change them as our kids get older and their needs change.

We simply cannot balance our relationships by ourselves.

Step 6: Review your balance: to retain or regain it

Balance is an achievable destination. But we must review our situations frequently, because it is easy to get knocked out of balance. You must recognize that you won't be in a state of balance at every moment -- sometimes work will take up more time, sometimes family.

Flexibility is crucial. Each of us, from time to time, will need a back-to-balance plan. You might evaluate your balance twice a year as a family and monthly as an individual.

It's a mistake to think that we can find balance in our lives and just stay there. Instead, the circumstances of our lives and those of our loved ones are always changing, so we have to adapt our efforts to achieve balance continually.

D. Quinn Mills is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and the author of Having It All . . . and Making It Work: Six Steps for Putting Both Your Career and Your Family First.


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