By Marcus Fleming, USMC, Master of Management student, and Dr. Suzanne Minarcine, Faculty Director, School of Business, APU
In life, we are much like marksmen. A few fundamentals – alignment, sight picture, breath control, trigger control and bone support – enable a shooter to hit the target. But one missing element can throw the entire shot off target.
Work-Life Balance Is Essential for Health and Success
Balance requires prioritizing what is important at work and away from the office, without expending too much time or effort on work or home. Most people’s fundamental areas of life include spirituality, education, exercise and leisure, relationships and their work. Too much time or energy invested in any one of these fundamentals causes an imbalance and throws the entire shot “off target” in a sense.
Work might be the most important aspect of your life, but what about your family, education and hobbies? Like a marksman, you need balance in all the elements of your life. In marksmanship, if the shooter’s sight alignment is off, it is difficult to hit the target even when other fundamentals are present. To correct this problem, the shooter must adjust the sight.
In the same way, people who are extremely successful at work but experience tumult in their homes must make adjustments to remain in balance. Perhaps it’s a surprising metaphor, but correlating the adjustments a shooter makes to those adjustments that ordinary people must make to their lives are strikingly similar.
In marksmanship, if a shooter’s shots are missing to the right, he moves his sights to the left to compensate for the deviation. For people who have an imbalance in life, basic corrections in focus and priorities can help get them back on target.
For example, a father who notices that his wife and children are becoming distant and enjoy activities without him can achieve a work-life balance by taking time from work and reinvesting it in his family. This family time involves realigning work priorities and identifying what is really important in his life. It is easy to lose sight of what is required and what we think we need to do. We look at the trees and lose sight of the forest.
Shifting Focus on Any Single Fundamental Creates an Imbalance
As people experience the ebbs and flows of life, certain aspects of their lives are bound to require more focus than others. It is inevitable. If your education takes time away from your family, hobbies or leisure activities, then make an adjustment to bring all of those aspects into proper balance.
Similarly, there are times when work demands forgoing some family or leisure time. When that happens, you need a reset to bring back the balance.
Achieving a work-life balance requires self-awareness and the humility to make the necessary changes. The resulting harmony makes the effort worthwhile.
There are apps and calendar tools to help you chart how you are spending your time. Scheduling your off time on your calendar, just as you would a “busy” appointment, will help you allocate the renewal time you need.
Also, Pomodoro is an app that can help you schedule time to get up and move around. ATracker is another free phone app that can help you see how you are prioritizing your tasks and how your time is spent.
Just as the marksman makes adjustments to put shots on target, you can make adjustments to find harmony and balance in your life.
About the Authors
Dr. Suzanne Minarcine is the faculty director for the School of Business at American Public University. She currently teaches strategic management and entrepreneurship courses.
Marcus Fleming is a graduate student currently seeking a master’s degree in management at American Military University.