For so long, “work-life balance” was the ultimate goal; the elusive concept that everyone was striving for. A harmonious equilibrium between career and family, business and health, where we can have it all and lead a happy life.
Even if we make the assumption that the perfect work-life balance even exists (which I strongly suspect it doesn’t), I’m starting to wonder whether this way of thinking is becoming outdated, with widespread changes in working practices, technology and mindset.
The term “work-life balance” implies that your life is separate from your work, and that you need to determine the optimum time-split between the two for a happy and fulfilling existence.
I would argue that your work is inextricably intertwined with your life and who you are, and that what we should actually be striving for is a lifestyle that allows us the necessary flexibility to prioritise different areas of our life, like family, friends, work and health, at any given time.
Flexible working hours have recently been embraced by many employers allowing employees to choose work different hours so that they can be there for their families and children when they need them. The employers themselves see benefits too, in areas such as employee relations, staff recruitment and retention, productivity and absence rates.
Although flexible hours seem to be a win-win situation for both employee and employer, does it go far enough? Does it really provide enough flexibility for employees to manage the different priorities in their life?
Of course, I’m biased! I believe that building a business that leverages your time through efficient systems and effective delegation is the best way to achieve true flexibility and balance in life. It’s what I’m aiming for – a business that operates without me, in the cloud, and still generates money will allow me to focus on its growth and development, whilst prioritising time with my family and my own health and wellbeing.
I see the benefits of flexibility from the perspective of my team too. A combination of remote working and flexible hours reduces stress for employees, allowing them to get on with their work at the times when they are most productive, and gives a greater sense of personal control over their schedule and work environment.
Tim Ferris, author of “The 4-Hour Work Week”, has been instrumental in shining the spotlight on flexibility in the business world. His book, which remains a best-seller, is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs to change their lifestyle in order to stop being overworked and overwhelmed. Since then, many more “freedom business” gurus have come on the scene to promote this message and present new and different ways of achieving it (a couple of my favourites are Chris Ducker and Natalie Sisson.)
So, is the dream of a “flexible lifestyle” the new “work-life balance”? I think so. And I think it’s entirely possible to achieve when you’re running an online business, or have a progressive employer who sees value in giving freedom to employees.
What could you do today to work towards your flexible lifestyle?