Nina Spencer

SMART Goals for Work/Life Balance in 2002

Our lives work in direct proportion to the commitments we make and keep. The "making" is the easy part...the "keeping" is harder! The two most popular times of year to make new commitments are the day after Labour Day (in September) and the month of January.

Since last autumn, I've noticed a significant increase in clients asking for presentations on Goal Setting and Work/Life Balance. Striking that perfect work/life balance is everyone's fantasy but hardly anyone's reality. Despite the fact that both your work life and personal life may seem to demand 100 per cent of your energy 100 per cent of the time, you can move closer to your perfect work/life balance by embracing certain practices.

Self-Management, Destiny Control, Redefining "Success" and Reducing Workplace Stress are four powerful practices for developing a satisfying work/life balance. Exercise these practices for yourself and, if you are in a position of official leadership, champion these focuses for your staff.

The first four editions Working Wisdom will address each of these valuable practices, starting with Self-Management...particularly goal setting.

Work/life balance comes more easily to us when we clearly know what we want...and articulate it! Alfred Newman of Mad Magazine said, "Most people don't know what they want but they're pretty sure they haven't got it!". Instead of focusing on what you don't want, start getting clearer about what you really do want, at work and in private life, by asking yourself these questions (and writing out your responses):

  • What do I want for myself? professionally? personally?
  • What does work/life balance mean to me?
  • What would work/life balance "look like" if I had it?
  • What small step(s) can I take today to move myself in the direction of my perfect work/life balance vision?

The Four Natures of Self is an ancient concept that has resurfaced in recent years: the physical, emotional, mental and the spiritual. To make New Year's Self-Management resolutions, consider using the frame work of the Four Natures of Self. Create S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive) daily, weekly or monthly goals based on your Four Natures.

Physical Balance

The Physical refers to Bodily Wellness. Establish goals that help you eat right, sleep right, and feel physically fit and energized, such as:

  • Drink 6 glasses of water and eat two fruits daily,
  • Exercise three times a week,
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep, at least four times per week.

Research reported on CBC Radio One on January 14th, 2002, indicates that a direct correlation exits between getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night and your body's ability to efficiently and maximally burn calories. Apparently sleep deprivation (five hours per night or less) slows down your body's proper metabolic rate. Do you realize what this means? You can lose weight by staying in bed longer! What a concept!

Emotional Balance

The Emotional is about Relationships with all those with whom you interact on a daily basis. Workplace Emotional Goals could include:

  • Acknowledging/complimenting a specific, fine contribution of a colleague or team member (especially the efforts of the often unsung support staff),
  • Finally setting the date for the "lunch thing" you've been meaning to do with a cherished colleague or client for the past year.

Personal Emotional Goals include:

  • Phoning or visiting that dear friend or family member you've been "meaning to call" for ages,
  • Establishing a weekly or monthly "date night" with your significant other (and/or booking separate dates with each of your children, youngsters or otherwise),
  • Writing a "what I appreciate most about you is..." note to one of your most favourite people in the whole world.

Mental Balance

The Mental, can be summed up in this saying, "When you're green you're growing and when you're ripe you rot!". What can you do for yourself on a regular basis to ensure your ongoing professional and personal mental growth? One Workplace Mental Goal could include establishing a team or department professional development library (and perhaps discussing the business value and application of such books in monthly team meetings). Other Workplace Mental Goals include:

  • Joining an association which relates to your profession,
  • Ensuring you attend at least one "outside" professional conference or lecture per year,
  • Championing in-house professional development opportunities for you, your staff and colleagues (even sleuthing out such professional development opportunities yourself, and paying for them independently if your employer does not embrace on-site, company sponsored professional development).

Remember, "Where ever you go...there you are!" You take your acquired professional wisdom with you where ever you professionally roam, so it's always worth the investment!

Examples of Personal Mental Goals include:

  • Completing any of the books stacked up on your bedside table,
  • Taking a course on a subject of personal interest, or any other measurable mental activity which leaves you wiser today than yesterday...
  • How about a stimulating conversation with a close friend that examines personal ideas, philosophies and perspectives on issues of the world around you, local or otherwise, rather than typical discussions about others?

I remember hearing of a man who made a conscious decision to stop talking about other people (even in a "nice" way) unless they were present. What was his profound discovery? He eliminated 90 per cent of all his conversations!

Spiritual Balance

Demonstrating Spiritual Nature may take a traditional focus for some, but there are many diverse and subtle ways to practice conscious daily spirituality. Spiritual nature is demonstrated, whether or not you give your actions this label, every time you kindly and generously give of your time, energy or personal resources without keeping score about what is in it for you. Examples of Workplace Spiritual Goals include:

  • Voluntarily helping out a "swamped" co-worker without being asked, because they're "drowning" and because you can spare some time (whether or not they ever know that you helped out),
  • Going out of your way to call or visit a sick colleague (perhaps someone on extended leave due to a serious unwellness),
  • Championing your team or company to embraced a particular charitable cause.

Examples of Personal Spiritual Goals include:

  • Taking food to a local food bank at special times of year...or just because,
  • Donating clothes to eg. Goodwill,
  • Making financial (or other) donations to your favourite charities,
  • Donating blood (once, or on a regular basis).

Establishing your goals, in print, helps elevate your wishes and dreams to realities. Each day, week, month or year, you can manipulate your professional and personal future through the thoughts, pictures and goals you create today. So as we think, so as we feel, so as we behave. Remember the smallest of actions is always better than the noblest of intentions and that your life will work in direct proportion to the commitments you make and keep. No matter how big or small the commitments, the "keeping" is the most important part of all!

This year, right now, set yourself up for your best work/life successes yet! January is a perfect time for having another "go" at formal goal setting. And if, along the way, you find yourself getting momentarily stuck on one of your goals, remember these profound words from a master of goal achievement, Albert Einstein, "It's not that I am smarter than anyone else. It's just that I stay with my problems longer." Experiment with the Four Natures of Self as your goal setting guidelines and Go, Go, Go, Go for your Goals...in 2002! May you have much Einsteinian style "staying" stamina! Now say THAT five times really fast!