Happiness and the Work/Life Balance

by | Mar 7, 2012

I just got off the phone with a dear friend, who is a super star in the fashion world. When we met, she had recently decided to leave her big fat fashion gig, to explore the question, “what is happiness”. She had everything in her life that on paper seemed amazing. She made an incredible living, traveled the world, met interesting people in the fashion industry, and was very well respected as a business woman. But, with all the luxuries, something was missing. She had an aching desire to find herself.  She had been lost in the madness of her career. When I met her, she was gifting herself with time off for self-discovery, fun and seeking balance. My friend was enjoying life, and had realized she spent the majority of her career running, striving to be the best, over-achieving,  and a typical independent.

Recently she has been called back into fashion, lured by her love of making things happen, and her innate talent to take control and steer the ship.  But she now finds that the lessons she learned in her six-month hiatus are slowly falling away, as she is working 16 hour days once again, and loosing her precious ‘me’ time.  She has fallen back into the trap of the false belief: if I don’t work more hours than anyone else, I am not going to get the job done right.  So I asked her the question, “are you happy?”.  As she teared up, she shared that she doesn’t know any other way to be.  She admits to being the on-call cheerleader, over-achiever, and slack-picker-upper.  Her old habits are creeping back in, and I applaud her for recognizing them.  That is the first step.

In today’s world, we feel as though more is the answer.  More hours at the office will make us a better employee, boss, CFO, or CEO.  But is more really the answer when it robs us of our happiness, our inner peace, our joy?  More is actually less, because it deprives us of spending time with the people we love, including ourselves.  It takes away from what makes us happy and feel good, and we all know when we are happy and at peace, we work smarter, we attract better circumstances to our lives, we are more productive because we feel good.  When we are down, over-worked and frustrated, we meet resistance and everything we do takes us longer, becomes more complicated because we make it so. We believe that frustration means we are working hard, and if we are working hard we must be doing a good job.  But the reality is we are more useful and prosperous when we have a healthy balance, which allows us to enjoy our job, our career, our family and relationships.  What is more important to you?  Clocking out last and dreading your job, or creating balance, working smart, and having happy, fulfilling relationships?  It is impossible to have balance when you are under the impression that long miserable hours equal success.  You may want to ask yourself, exactly what the definition of success really is…what it really means…and re-structure your thinking from there.