Finding work life balance: How I worked nearly 60 hours this week and still spent quality time with family and friends.

by Don Smith

All products and services featured on this site are independently selected by our authors and editors. If you buy something through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Work-life balance, that's the catchphrase these days, right? I'm sure you've heard phrases like “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, said “There is no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” – Jack Welch

Sounds a little harsh at first, but frankly I couldn't agree more with Jack! You are choosing what to prioritize every day, and good or bad, those choices have consequences.

I've worked 80 hours in a 4-day stretch before, pausing only to catch a few hours of sleep in a hotel room, and 36 hours straight only pausing long enough to go to the bathroom. Choosing to give it my all was incredible for my career. In fact, my dedication to my career allowed me to advance to the point that I am now the general manager of my company.

My ex-wife might tell you those choices were not such a good decision for my family though. In the past when I pulled long hours, I did it because I wanted to provide for my family and took pride in a job well done. I didn't often think about anything else though, after all, I was providing for my family! I often still pull long hours at times for the same reasons. These days, I have learned how to balance things a little better. I worked somewhere around 60 hours this week, nearly half of which was on Monday and Tuesday, pulling 13+ hour days. While a bit exhausted from the long week, I actually really enjoyed it. This week was a little different than past ones. I've learned to integrate work with friendships, relaxation, and family. I even got a chance to catch up with a dear old friend, a lady that practically raised me, a lady I call mama.

Don & Mama

Make a Choice to Find Work-Life Balance

The biggest thing you must do in order to find that elusive work-life balance is to identify your priorities. Remember that this is really not about work-life balance, it is about work-life choices. Let me tell you a little about my week so you can see what that looks like.

Monday afternoon I had to travel across the state to be ready to go Tuesday morning. We had five sites to survey in five different counties followed by a long drive back home the next day, so I knew it would be some long days. I spent the morning and early afternoon Monday taking care of random things at work so that I could be gone for a couple of days, then headed out. I wouldn't be arriving at the hotel until around 8 that night if I drove straight there. Thinking back to my priorities, I realized that I would be passing close to an old friend, my mama. This lady had babysat me for many years and was like a second mom to me, and I hadn't seen her in years.

With the death of a good friend who I wrote about last week in my article 3 Life Lessons I Learned from Leighton still fresh on my mind, I made a choice to stop and visit. I stopped and visited with mama for a few hours. Did that hurt my job at all? Absolutely not! Remember I wouldn't have been getting into the hotel room until after 8PM anyway. The visit renewed our friendship, and I walked away re-energized.

The sun was starting to set by now, and I remembered another priority that I had set which I mentioned in my article Enjoy the Detours in Life. I've made the choice to take the time to enjoy the most beautiful scenes in nature whenever possible. I saw a sign for a lake, and made a choice to pull off the road to enjoy the sunset, this time a very intentional detour.

Sunset on an intentional detour

It was well worth it, watching the master painter at work on his creation renewed me and broke up the trip even more. I arrived at the hotel around 10 that night, a little road weary, but happy. I caught up with my wife and crashed for the night.
The next morning, I got up and went to visit our potential clients. It quickly became obvious that their existing recording vendor (we install 911 recording systems) was not giving them anywhere near the service they would receive from us, so I knew we could help. I love feeling like I am helping others, and even got to catch up with a coworker on the drives between sites, so thoroughly enjoyed my day.
With my work done, I headed home to focus on an even bigger priority, my family. My wife and children were glad to see me after being away for a couple of days. Even the dog was jumping up and down, glad to get to go on our nightly walk again. Sometimes a little break can indeed make the heart grow fonder, and while I try hard not to make being gone a habit, I've learned that it isn't always a bad thing.

Make a Choice For Quality Time With Your Family

I have made a choice to take walks each night, and my wife and kids often join me. These walks have become a great source of joy for me, and as often happens my daughter and I got into a pretty deep discussion. The next few nights, we walked, jogged, and talked for hours, which added another dimension to my week. Sure beats crashing out in front of the TV. Look for ways like that to spend some quality time with your family!
I've also made a choice to take my wife along on business trips when appropriate, being extra careful not to let her being there interfere with the business I needed to get done or run up any additional charges for the company. Those trips have provided a welcome change of pace, and she has gotten to explore some interesting cities while I work. We've also been able to catch up at the end of the day for some quality time together.
That's what true work-life balance looks like.
Choose what your priorities are, and then make them a priority.
Choose to make work a priority when you are at work, and work hard if you want to advance in your career. Choose to make family and friends a priority as well, and look for ways to include them in your day to day life, but don't let them interfere with getting the really important things done at work. Be careful to also not let your work interfere with the really important things at home.
At times you will have to choose if you have really important things going on at home and at work at the same time. Those are tough choices. My best advice when that happens is to weigh your options and consequences and then make a choice. One or the other will suffer, but you always have the choice as to which one is your bigger priority.

As Jack Welch said, it is not work-life balance, it is work-life choices.
Choose wisely, my friend.

I hope you have enjoyed this article! If it helped you in some small way, please share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter, and make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Have a wonderful week!

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

I saw a few messages on social media recently. I had to tune these folks out. I do like these people. Perhaps

Read More
Be Careful or You Will Be Tuned Out

Mastering the skill of befriending people makes life easier and easier. Problems dissolve the moment you ask friends for help. Friends offer

Read More
Why Life Gets Easier for Connected People

I do not currently run a spectacular venture but have circled the globe for 8 years as a pro blogger by writing

Read More
Simple Building Blocks Form the Foundation for Spectacular Ventures

I hear from many struggling bloggers who make excuses routinely. Perhaps full time employee, part time bloggers feel short on time after

Read More
Do You Make Excuses or Progress?

Most people think that they'll get to the stuff they have been procrastinating once they feel motivated to do it. However, this is

Read More
Why You Should Not Wait for Motivation

There was a time when I was surrounded by people I now refer to as proponents of impossibility. If a creative idea

Read More

I roll out of a comfortable, warm bed every morning and step into an icy cold shower for 40 seconds. Why? I

Read More
How Is Your Relationship with Discomfort?

You have probably heard the saying, “you can't have your cake and eat it too.” What it means is that you can't

Read More
Why the idea “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” is a poor way to live life

A year from now, will you be WISHING that you started today?   Or will you be GLAD that you started today? What

Read More
Start Today: What 1 Percent Change Looks Like

Born in a year of famine in a tiny Austrian town to becoming one of the most widely recognized names on the

Read More
Personal Development Book of the Month: Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Change is the only constant in life. Life presents you with two clear choices. Either grow through change to become free or

Read More
Either Grow and Become Free or Resist and Suffer

When I first started this personal development community several years ago, I never thought it would gain the momentum it has. Now

Read More
Never Wrestle With Pigs: How to Deal With Bullies and Trolls


Get new articles and course discounts from leading providers every Friday in your inbox with your free subscription!