When Work-Life Balance Needs Adjusting, Bad News Can Be Good News

A few years ago I had a coaching client, let’s call him Ted, who was informed that his company was letting him go. We had a meeting scheduled the same day he got the news. When he walked in, I could tell something was different. I asked him what was going on.

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“I just got the best news of my life.” Ted began. “I was just told that my position at my company was being eliminated. They were letting me go after 12 years.”

How could this bad news be such good news? I had gotten used to people in this situation coming in with far worse attitudes and mindsets. So I had to ask Ted what was so different that made him declare this news was good news. He proceeded to explain.

“My job had gotten to where I felt like I had no life. We were working so hard to make things good at work that my family life had taken a big hit.” he shared. “My work-life balance for work, life,  and even my faith has suffered. I was so busy being a  dedicated officer of my company that I had created a record of fails at home, in my marriage, and in my church. People outside of work who were counting on me started to believe I’d break any promises I made.”

We talked more about it. Ted continued:

“I felt conflicted about not giving it my all at work when I knew my company was suffering during the downturn. I guess I had convinced myself that my part at work could make a difference. This is how I justified letting my family and friends take a back seat.” He was clearly conscious of the cost.

So I asked exactly how do you think this is good news? Ted immediately told me that having to walk away from that job meant he was free again. Yes, he knew it would be difficult to find another position with the benefits and perks he had earned before, but he was truly happy about the opportunity to wipe the slate clean. He saw this event as a turning point. He wanted to rebuild what he had done to hurt his wife, kids, and friends.

When your own sense of work-life balance between work, life and faith has started to suffer, can you see the warning signs? Here are some fairly easy markers to watch.

1. How is your time balance? Is any one area getting all of your “quality time” while other areas hunger for your time?

2. How is your fatigue level? Are you constantly so tired you cannot seem to move from one task to the next?

3. How is your focus level? Are you easily distracted?

4. Lastly, how is your outlook? Has there been a shift away from the attitudes and behaviors that are consistent with your more normal balanced self?

If you believe any of these factors need adjusting, then likely you have allowed yourself to get out of balance. Of course this list may be very different from one person to the next, but building your own list of things to look for can be very helpful.

In Ted’s case, he had let his definition of balance slowly erode over his 12 years at the company.

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