By Younas Chaudhary
A perfect work-life balance is a myth. Our work ethic defines us, keeps us on tasks, enhances our productivity, and enables us to get things done. But how do you balance work and life? I believe there are no shortcuts, and it takes consistent, committed effort to build harmony between our work and life.
Whether you are a cook or a doctor, a lawyer or a musician, what matters is your passion. I never wait on work-related tasks, and even if I fall asleep, I get out of bed and complete them without excuses. You might call me an inveterate workaholic, or maybe just someone deeply engrossed in his work. But either way, this compulsion to prioritize my work and get my tasks done did not come about by chance. It is the result of a habitual, long-standing work ethic that I built over the years.
Why do I do this, and why can’t my work wait? The answer is simple. I feel obligated to complete my pending tasks on time, and this work ethic has given me a life full of blessings.
Come rain or shine, I make sure that my work priorities get done any day, any time, in whatever city, country, or continent I may be in. Whenever I travel, I always stay in Houston time, and I am always available to my team even if I am on an African Safari or sipping tea in London! You can say I am married to my work but let me tell you that I do have a great balance of life outside of work as well!
The trick is in finding harmony, in creating that tiny space between work and family, and then in taking that time to introspect and enjoy.
I respect people who work with a fixed schedule from 8 am to 5 pm, but I disagree that our work life or our intellectual contributions towards work should be limited to certain hours of the day, with weekends and holidays off work. As an entrepreneur, I cannot stay on a fixed schedule, because my energy-related operations do not run on my schedule; they run around the clock.
If you want to stay ahead of the game, you have to invest a lot of time and energy in building an inner self-discipline that will carry you forward.
So how do you build a harmonious work-life balance? This definitely needs the cooperation of other family members. While building my businesses, my wife knew that I had to devote an insane amount of my time and effort to building the future that we wanted. She rarely bothered me about my work, and my children were also cooperative. It is essential that you be transparent and tell your family members about the travails of being an entrepreneur, which include long hours at work and being away from home for long periods of time.
Harmony between work and life is once again in front of us, as the pandemic has caused a lot of people especially women to work from home. Women are juggling life and work, especially those who are managing their children’s education and their homes. An “always on” mentality is creating pressure, and I believe women working from home are receiving far less credit than they deserve for the harmony they create at home, keeping everything together. Their advice, action, and patience keeps families together during high-stress periods. We should take time as a society to be empathetic, understand their needs, and teach them how to create harmony between work, children, daily chores, and other tasks.
You can also build harmony between work and life by doing simple things like keeping a calendar, forecasting your daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks. During weekends, I devote time to creating a task list of what our team needs to accomplish during the week, month, quarter, and longer periods of time. Once again, some people might ask: Why is he doing this on a weekend? I am intensely passionate about the successes of my businesses, and I have an obligation to keep them healthy, so they benefit everyone—including the co-workers who ask why I work on weekends! Do I need to do it at this stage of my career? No. But my passion for what I do enriches my intellect, keeps me sharp, and prevents boredom.
I feel blessed to be a workaholic, if that is the way the world defines this attitude towards work! If work becomes something that’s so close to you, and you are willing to do it even if you do not get paid for it, it’s a delightful experience, and you are not a “workaholic” in any negative sense.
Small, well-crafted actions learned through trial and error over the last four decades have helped me create a harmonious work-life balance.
Young entrepreneurs often ask me how one can create harmony between their work and family life. I had to devote a lot of energy and countless hours to my businesses in the early years, because I was on survival mode and had less time to spend time with family. However, once I established my business, I strived to create harmony between my work life and my family life. It was not easy, but on the flip side, the long-term results of that hard work have paid off handsomely.
Did this come from luck? No, it did not. It was the result of tenacity, perseverance, struggle, and a consistent, solid work ethic. To add to that, divine intervention came in with God’s hand to provide me a better life, perhaps due to my hard work! I had just one role model, which was “common sense”. I believe this blessing, along with all other blessings, came from God because common sense seems to be a rare blessing these days!
To recap, here are a few things you can do to create work-life harmony in your lives:
- Admit that there is no “perfect” work-life balance. Instead, try to create harmony between you, your work, and your life outside work.
- Stay true to your passion and find a career that you love.
- Live a healthy life and stay connected to your natural surroundings. Take time for long walks, smell the roses, visit gardens and natural scenes, and know that you are a product of your surroundings.
- Set clear goals and priorities and act on them. There is no point to simply creating a list; acting on your list is what matters.
- Your family is important, but that does not mean you need to create strict boundaries between work and family life. Create flexibility that gives you and your surroundings peace and the ability to manage both.
- Lastly, learn to say “no”, especially to so many temptations that come into our lives as we become successful.
You can read more by purchasing my best-selling memoir “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.