Fast Tracking versus Life Balancing: The TAE of Success

“The reason I’ve come to see you is because of what happened last night,” Valerie said at the start of what I assumed was to be a career coaching session.  This was not about career, however, as she loved her work and was on the fast track of managerial leadership.  In fact, she loved her job so much that she took work home and spent significant portions of weekends engaged with it.

What brought her into my office was an incident the previous evening with a sick daughter.  When Valerie attempted to provide nurturing comfort her daughter began crying and asking for the babysitter.  “That was,” Valerie said, “a shocking awakening.  I want career success, but I also want to be the mother of my kids.” From that experience Valerie realized that she had been overdoing her attention to work and under attending to her kids and her home life.

Work-life-balance is recognized as essential for health and effectiveness in the work place but is usually more talked about than practiced. Corporate life in the fast lane is demanding and can become an all-consuming enterprise.  At work there are clear indicators for what success means, but in our home-life it may take a shock to realize what real success means at a personal level. Health scares, a serious accident, the loss of a loved have shocked many into reassessing what’s truly important.  For Valerie it took a confrontation with a sick child pleading for nurturing from someone other than mom as an eye-opening dose of reality.

Although this came as a blow to Valerie it turned out to a blessing in disguise. She realized that being a loving mom and wife took precedence over the “fast track” at work.  It’s not that work lost its bloom; she just was no longer going to let it consume 90% of her time, attention, and energy.  An equal balance of these three precious resources in career and home-life seemed a more fulfilling and workable compromise. From this insight Valerie stopped going into the office on weekends, no longer took none-essential work home, and turned down some appealing fast-track career opportunities in favor of spending quality time with her loved ones.  She viewed her career was a long-term venture to be managed over time while her daughters were only going to be young for a short while.  She also appreciated that time with her husband was usually more enjoyable and nurturing than weekends at the office computer.

If you’re working more and enjoying life less, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities in life and work.  Here are six steps for clarifying your life priorities for where and how you chose to invest your time, attention, and energy (TAE):

  1. What are your core values (what gives you real joy and fulfillment)?
  2. List your top seven core values in order of priority.
  3. Estimate the percentage of TAE you now invest in your core priorities.
  4. Determine what percentage of TAE you chose to invest in your core priorities and create your goals accordingly.
  5. Display your core values and TAE goals as a reminder of your intentions.
  6. Review your TAE progress and restate your intentions on a monthly basis.

The Passion Revealer can be a useful resource in assessing your core priorities.

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