The balance between our work and our personal lives will always be what Andy Stanley calls a “tension to manage.” We need to strive for balance, but we will never fully find it. What we can do, is be as intentional as possible in fighting for this balance. It’s in this daily fight that we can discover how to manage the tension appropriately.
Here are three ways we can fight for balance between our work and our personal lives.
Fight for balance by giving yourself permission to say “good enough.”
Sometimes “good enough” is truly good enough. If you’re a leader, that sentence probably sent shivers down your spine.
Good enough . . . good enough . . . that sounds a lot like mediocracy and compromise. In this case, good enough simply means you recognize that at a certain point you need to stop working on a project or task. As leaders, it’s easy for us to see the endless list of areas that could have been improved on if we had only just worked a little harder. Finding the appropriate time to say “good enough” means launching our event, shipping our product, or moving to phase two. If we don’t adopt a healthy understanding of “good enough,” we run the risk of working to exhaustion as we strive for perfection. Since we are leaders, an unhealthy demand for perfection could also lead those who follow us to share in this unhealthiness. Give yourself permission to say “good enough” at the right times.
Fight for balance by working hard and resting well.
Our culture screams loudly that those who rest the least and push the hardest, come out on top. Per research performed by Project Time Oﬀ, Americans forfeited 222 million vacation days in 2015. These were unused days that did not roll over. At an alarming rate, employees are adopting an idea that getting ahead means sacrificing your mental and physical well-being at the cost of working harder or longer. As followers of Jesus, we should already have an understanding that this is not the way to live. We know that rest is something our bodies were designed by God to benefit from. In addition to God’s commands surrounding the Sabbath, Psalm 127:2 says it clearly, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” God designed us to have a balance between hard work and quality rest. It’s interesting to note that rest is a way that God shows us His love. Next time you are resting, don’t feel guilty, God designed you to do it well.
On the flip side, working hard when it’s time to work is also key to finding a healthy balance. Just like Scripture gives us instruction for rest, it also gives us instruction to work hard. Proverbs 13:4 says it bluntly, “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Going home at the end of the day knowing we performed at our best will make it easier for us to rest knowing we left nothing on the table, we will be “fully satisfied.” The tension between hard work and rest is real, and it takes us managing both to find balance.
Fight for balance by prioritizing the right things.
It’s basic supply and demand. The demands on our time during the day, far outweigh the supply of hours we have. When it comes to finding a balance between work and personal life, it means taking control of our priorities and getting ahead of the demands we know are coming. Anyone that looks at your calendar will get a clear idea of what your priorities are. However, if our schedule so clearly communicates our priorities why are we surprised by it? Why do we get frustrated after we sacrificed important family time by being out every night this last week, or why does it seem to come out of nowhere when we work every Saturday during a month and miss the time that could have been used building into our most important relationships? Get ahead of your schedule, and fill it in with the things that matter. Maybe this means some intentional actual sleeping rest, a date night with your spouse, or a Saturday spent with your family investing in each other.
We will need to make some sacrifices but by learning when to say “good enough,” working hard and resting well, and identifying the right priorities we will go a long way to finding the balance between our work and our personal life.