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Get your work life balance back on track

Whether you work for your company or yourself, work can be fulfilling or overwhelming. When it shifts to overwhelming, it's time to make a change. But how?

My guest blogger today is the fabulous Ellen Lubin-Sherman, author of “The Essentials of Fabulous: Because Whatever Doesn’t Work Here Anymore."   Ellen is a well-known personal branding expert and executive coach. She believes anyone anyone can be fabulous if they develop a positive attitude, impeccable manners, authenticity and flair, have a diverse group of people they are connected with), and a board of supportive people who can help carry them to the top.

If you live in South Florida, you won't want to miss Ellen in person when she speaks at the March 17 “Literary Jazz Brunch” in Coconut Grove. Follow this link to learn more about the event.

Here's Ellen's take on work life balance: 

I was on the PATH train at 11:00 p.m. on a Friday night heading back to New Jersey and noticed a terrific-looking young woman dressed in an elegant pantsuit and holding a briefcase.  She was on her way home and after inquiring as to her line of work, she blurted out “I don’t have a life.”  “Why don’t you have a life,” I asked her as she looked like the epitome of “woman who has it all.”  Her response: “ I end up doing most of the work because my colleagues don’t care as much as I do.  My hours are too long to socialize with friends or meet new people.”

A classic “work/life” conundrum and one that can be easily fixed.  Shall I go on?

In every corporation, there are people who row the boat and people who sit on the boat and enjoy the view. The woman on the PATH train rowed…she picked up the oars in order to get the boat to the destination.   If she had dropped the oars, someone else would have had to pick them up but because she was a super-performer, she didn’t and ended up capsizing her personal life. 

The young woman had options but she chose not to execute them.  In addition to dropping the oars, I would have encouraged her to the following:

  1. Set limitations on the number of hours she worked.  Unless there’s a deadline looming or her profession required long hours (e.g. a lawyer on partner track), she needs to replenish her creativity bank before it goes belly-up.  Leave work at an appropriate hour even if everyone is hanging around (people who are lonely might not want to go home).
  2. Keeping her network of friends up-to-date is of utmost importance.  While it may seem frivolous to spend time connecting with friends and former colleagues, it’s important to build your bridges before they get blown up.  Especially in this fragile economy, it’s important to create a personal “board of directors” that are aware of what you’re doing so they can jump in if you need assistance.
  3. Don’t protect your colleagues if they’re not pulling their own weight (or the oars.)  The young woman was not only covering for but enabling her fellow workers to turn in sloppy and unacceptable work.
  4. People with full and pleasurable lives are happy people and they create an air space around them filled with optimism and excitement.  Someone who is emotionally deprived will “contaige” the office with malaise, creating a negative environment for superior work.
  5. It’s an old saying but true:  No one ever wished they had spent more time at work and less time with family and friends.  Everyone needs to give and receive love and affection.

Have you recently found your work life balance out of whack? What did you do about it?