Values and Work-Life Balance: What Is Most Important?

As I sit waiting for my flight at the Denver airport, I am struck by the busy but disjointed scene around me. The gentleman next to me has been surfing the web nonstop for an hour. All but one person out of about twenty at United Airlines Gate B82 are hooked into computers, cell phones, iPads, or a Kindle (including me as I write this blog). No smiles, no conversation.

I remember the warm conversations I’ve had on past travels—delightful exchanges with a dad traveling with his kids, a student on her way home for spring break, a businesswoman who gave me a crash course in wardrobe-building. Was that only a few years ago? It still astounds me how quickly we have become tech junkies, and how completely. It’s an addiction, a challenge that is not disappearing any time soon. Technology is a huge advantage and an incredible tool, but boundaries around its use are definitely needed.Airport terminal and people plugged into technology

In "The UnAmerican Dream“ by Carlos Hidalgo, the authors states,

"Fulfillment in life and work is not about balance, it's about boundaries. One of the big lessons is: we should take pride in our work and we should work hard, but we shouldn't make it the center of all things.”

One thing I know for sure is that we have a choice where to put our attention. I'll admit, my work is my passion, and the fulfillment is so satisfying that it's important for me to watch-dog my life-work balance. A way I find this balance is by putting boundaries, as mentioned above, around my mobile phone and how much time I spend on email. Remembering those I love, and the relationships most important to me keeps me focused on my values. It takes self-awareness and everyday mindfulness to remain centered in our values as business owners and leaders, as human beings and parents.

And I admit that sometimes I justify working on my computer a little longer in the evening at home when I could be enjoying my husband’s company or conversing with my son, or be outside enjoying the fresh air and beauty of Montana.

My favorite hiking place in MontanaMy mind jumps to a quote I recently heard on a CD by the Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön. Like a brisk breeze passing through my mind, her poignant words come back to me:

“Death is certain; when we die is uncertain... What is most important?”

Her question echoes loudly within me now, calling me back to be present in a more connected way. It's important that we practice mindfulness so that we can make conscious choices to be present to each other and live our values more fully.

Do you have times where you might choose tech-immersion over personal interactions? Is it a conscious choice based on your values? How do you release stress and center around what is more important to you?

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Jennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence CoachJennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence Coach
Jennifer is the founder of Heartmanity and an emotional intelligence expert. She has two decades of EQ experience and is the author of emotional intelligence training and courses. As an emotional fitness coach, Jennifer teaches EQ skills, brain science hacks, and a comprehensive approach that gets results. She is happily married and the mother of three incredible grown children.

Posted in Communication & Interpersonal Skills, Emotional Intelligence

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