Published: 08 Mar 2010 By Carol Mclachlan for CareersinAudit.com
Blended Living™: Your guide to Work Life Balancing in the 21st Century
Picture this. A life of resolved conflicts. Time to do anything, and everything. Satisfied stakeholders: boss, reports, partner, friends and family. Exquisitely balanced to your own personal prescription. Seamless, congruent, harmonious.
An impossible dream? Not for much longer. Don’t let your job in audit get you down! Let me show you how.
Human Being or Human Doing?
It all started with my friend and former colleague, Juliana¹. I already knew Juliana well; we’d worked together years before at Ernst & Young. She’s your archetypal Type-A personality²: high-achieving, multi-tasking, driven, perfectionist workaholic. It takes one to know one!
Juliana became my client when, as a highly ambitious 30-something, she hit the wall. The conflict between work and everything else had just gone beyond her tolerance level. She sought me out to explore a career, or at least, a job change. It seemed, at work, her long hours, relentless perfectionism and laser focus, had resulted in crowding out everything else in her life. She felt her only option was to ‘downsize’ her career.
Beware the knee-jerk career reaction
When we looked deeper into what was missing - her everything else actually boiled down to health, fitness and leisure. This was the area that was being squeezed out – and critically – this really mattered to her. This loss was beyond her tolerance level.
Changing her job could have made more space for these aspects of her life. But - without due diligence - she would risk unfulfilled career aspirations and create just another dis-balance.
Our solution was much smarter. We took stock of the resources she already had and reassembled them in a different way – making the components work together more effectively - and really capitalised on her natural Type-A attributes.
And so was born Blended Living™
Blended Living™ was created in direct response to the challenges, conflicts and opportunities encountered clients, such as Juliana. It is - quite simply - a 21st century Life Balancing methodology. Not only does it recognise the extent of the changes of living and working in contemporary society, it works with these changes, to create a new mindset which can really exploit our vast 21st century resources and opportunities. Not to be confused with multi-tasking³, Blended Living™ is less about doing two things at once and more about ‘killing two birds with one stone’. It’s a move away from the silo thinking that tells us ‘this is work’, ‘this is leisure’, and never the twain shall meet! Blended Living™ is about finding activities which fulfil more than one of your core goals.
Back to Juliana
She didn’t change her job! Instead, we created some traction to propel her towards the area of her life that was being squeezed.
She took a mini-sabbatical from her main career and trained as a fitness instructor. She then became a licensed Body Pump coach, her erstwhile favourite fitness activity. And now, 2 - 3 nights a week, she instructs (and participates) in her beloved classes on a contract basis. She’s super-fit, she’s having fun and she’s getting paid for doing the exercise that had all but been squeezed out of her life. Oh, and no gym fees!
One happy client, one happy ending. Not only was Juliana meeting her personal aspirations at work and at play, she was also better using her personal assets. The key was creating the traction: responding to her Type-A personality traits to meet a fixed commitment on a regular basis. She now ‘makes’ the time available. It’s a high priority and she organises her other commitments around it.
And there’s more.....
The benefits of Blended Living™ are more far-reaching than achieving individual goals. Besides providing powerful productivity gains by making best use of time and resources and creating space to take advantage of wider choice and opportunity, it can also offer some superb synergy. Juliana’s case is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. She gets much, much more from being a fitness instructor than just being a mere participator.
Make it easy on yourself
Blended Living™ is about ease of living. Finding the easiest, maybe quickest, most effective or most satisfying way of doing something. The best way to illustrate this is to talk careers. It’s about round pegs in round holes. I don’t mean an undemanding career without personal stretch, snuggled cosily in your comfort zone. I’m talking about aligning your personal strengths to the required competencies of your role - fully exploiting your inherent assets while ensuring that your personal weaknesses are not liabilities to the job.
You may be lucky enough to have fallen into a role where all this comes together. But in many cases it doesn’t and I speak to auditors and accountants all over the world, who are square pegs in their particular career-hole. They come to me for skills coaching or career change because their job is made so much harder as their core weaknesses are so fundamental to the role. All they really need is a different role which plays to their strengths instead of trying to fix their weaknesses.
Six steps to Blended Living™
Let’s get started. Here is your guide to employing the Blended Living™ methodology:
1. Know where you are going. What do you really, really want? Decide what’s important to you and set core goals in each aspect of your life. You’ll only get balance if you take a holistic view of your life, so consider: career, finances, family, friends, leisure, spirituality, health and so on...... Only you can decide! Email me for your copy of my goal setting programme, Goals, Glorious Goals!
2. Know yourself. Take stock of your natural resources. Draw up a personal SWOT(4). What are your tolerance levels? What can you not live without? Where are you prepared to compromise?
3. Make choices about where you’ll spend your time - based on your research in steps 1 and 2.
4. Blend your life. Look for overlaps - achieving two goals for the price of one. Seek dual purpose activities. Ask what else can I achieve here?
5. Blend yourself with life. Make it easy on yourself. Simplify. Find your natural way. Exploit your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses.
6. Enter the virtuous circle. Create synergy. Experience the knock on effects. Get more of what you focus on. And let it all become so much easier.
Success by Stealth
The possibilities for Blended Living™ are limited only by your imagination. This is a superb opportunity to get your right brain in to gear. Whip out the mind maps, indulge in some lateral thinking and get creatively problem solving.
Opportunities are all around you. Try combining: fitness with family, learning with socialising, domestic chores with quality time for the brood, and work – with – well anything sensible really.
Notes and Resources
¹Name changed for privacy
²This typing was first described in the 1950s in relation to heart disease, by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and R. H. Rosenham. It subsequently appeared in the Jenkins Activity Survey, which was originated to detect behaviours which lead to heart attacks (Jenkins, Ayzanski, Rosenman, 1971).
³Learn more about the perils of multi-tasking in my CareersinAudit.com article, Managing Multiple Projects
(4)Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis.
This article was written by Carol McLachlan for CareersinAudit.com.