Debunking The Myth of Work-Life Balance…John Page Burton


I routinely hear clients express their frustration with their inability to find balance between their work life and their personal life. They tend to become equally frustrated when I explain that for most of us, achieving total balance in our personal and professional lives is a myth. In order to maximize our effectiveness in any area of life, we must be able to maintain focus and channel our energy into the task at hand. For example, when we are at work we must be focused on work. When we go to the gym we must be focused on our work out. When we are at home we must be present and focus on activities that involve our family. It’s impossible to be physically or mentally at two places at the same time. It’s also impossible to block out all of the distracting thoughts that roll through our mind in any given day. For example, if a family member is battling a disease we are going to carry this worry to our workplace. Likewise, if we are having significant challenges at work, we are going to bring them home with us. The key is to remain present and simply BE with the task or challenge at hand.

Below are a few suggestions to help keep us focused in life and business.

At work…

*Leave work at work. When we fail to turn off work we are effectively stealing from the emotional bank accounts of our family and friends. Our spouse, children and friends all deserve our undivided attention. For example, my wife and I will allocate 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to re-cap our work related experiences and then we shut off our work conversation and focus on BEING together.

*When at work it is important to focus on our 3-5 most important tasks. Don’t add anything else to the list until the last one is complete. This keeps us focused and free from creating long, meaningless “to do” lists.

*Stay out of office politics and refrain from participating in gossip. Gossip is like Cancer, if not cut off early, it continues to spread and grow and before long it infiltrates every area of our lives.

*Delegate. Delegation is freedom. When we routinely “do everything ourselves to ensure that it is done right” not only do we eventually burn out but we send a strong message to those in our charge that they are not capable. Delegation frees us up to focus on the tasks that truly need our attention. Focus on your strengths! Someone is strong where you are weak and vice versa.

*Use your vacation time. Every year, millions of Americans fail to use their paid vacation time. Vacation time should never be left on the table. If you are afraid that using your vacation time could put your job in jeopardy then it might be time to look for a new job. Vacation is good for the soul and allows us to recharge our mental and emotional batteries.

In our personal life…

*Date nights.  Regularly scheduled date nights are a great way to stay connected and keep the spark alive in our relationship or marriage. There is only one rule for a great date night…DON’T TALK ABOUT WORK! 

*Planned family activities. The family that plays together tends to stay together. Family activities effectively open lines of communication between parents and children which in turn builds trust. When enjoying family activities it is important  to disconnect from technology in order to focus on and truly enjoy the experience at hand. Growing and deepening our relationships with friends should also be high on our priority list.

*Nutrition. What we put into our body goes along way toward determining the quality of our life experience. Good fuel=energy and focus. Bad fuel=sluggishness and apathy.

*Exercise. Movement is good for the body and soul. For example, a brisk 30 minute walk can significantly boost our mental acuity and improve our mood due to the “natural high” that comes from the release of endorphins and serotonin. Become a mover and shaker!

*Become a life long learner. Not only is learning fun but studies have shown that as we get older the consistent use of our cognitive function may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.

By focusing on these suggestions we can’t help but become better partners, parents, employees and friends. In today’s fast paced, high tech world, finding balance between our work life and personal life is  “pie in the sky”. Our goal should be to focus on our present moment whether that involves work or play and let life unfold accordingly.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

The JOY of FAILURE…John Page Burton

Lets face it, most of us have a jaded relationship with failure. Many of us have experienced a love gone south, a business venture or career decision that didn’t go as planned or we may have even raised a child who chose to journey down a criminal path. Many of us have blamed ourselves for these “failures” and we have developed a negative self image as a result of them. When tough times happen (they will) it is our interpretation of the event that determines how we move forward. I recently wrote a book titled, Wisdom Through Failure. In this book I encourage my readers to first embrace and then establish a positive relationship with failure. This new relationship is essential for our mental health. Lets take a look at three ways we can find the positives (joy) from our perceived failures.

What was enjoyable about this experience? Looking back was it really all that bad? My intention is not to be a Pollyanna, however, ALL of us are capable of looking back and finding aspects of any experience that can put a smile on our face. By taking this approach we condition our mind to seek the positive in any given situation. For example, once upon a time I was in love with a girl. One day we got into a terrible fight and broke up. For weeks, I floated between the emotions of sadness, anger and guilt. I just couldn’t find anything positive about what “she had done to me”. (victim mindset) Twenty years later, it is easy to recall many fond memories of our time together. I needed to go through this “perceived failure/rejection” in order to become the person I am today. This experience allowed me to grow and it prepared me to meet the amazing women I now share my life with. Time can soften the hardest heart. Seek to find the positive aspects of the experience.

How did I grow from this experience? Who and where would I be if I had not gone through this? Like many, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting back on the things that I considered setbacks or outright failure. It is human nature to dwell on what we did “wrong ” and take for granted what we did “right”. Today, when I go through a rough spot, I tend to look for the lesson in the experience. What was I supposed to learn? When we seek to find the lesson, our setbacks and failures can be viewed from a more positive, conscious perspective.

Did this experience make me stronger? Anyone who has come out on the other side of a terminal illness will never look at their everyday challenges in the same way. Because of their near death experience, they now have an entirely different perspective. As survivors of the ultimate adversity, they now view setbacks and failures as mere bumps in the road. We don’t have to be an illness survivor to begin viewing our everyday challenges for what they really are….speed bumps. We can look back on a challenge, embrace the lesson, recognize that we are still standing and use this awareness to successfully navigate through future challenges. This is what I like to refer to as “personal power”.

If given a choice most of us would prefer to succeed at everything we do. Unfortunately this is not how it works. By implementing these three strategies we can re-frame any negative experience and truly begin finding the “joy” in our failure.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and perspective.