Five Consequences of a Life Out of Balance

If you are working more than fifty-five hours a week, you are working too much and likely out of balance. You may be able to work more than this for a season, but it is not sustainable. If you persist in working this much—or more—something will eventually break.

A Business Person Trying to Maintain His Balance - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/bowie15, Image #13200637

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/bowie15

When I first began my publishing career, I was determined to succeed. Part of what drove me was fear. I didn’t have any experience, and I was scared to death I would be found out.

However, I was also driven by the desire to achieve. I would later learn from the StrengthsFinder™ test that my top strength is “Achiever.” As a result, I loved climbing the corporate ladder, moving from one level to the next.

In those early years, I would arrive at the office at 5:00 a.m. and not leave until 6:00 p.m. Since I would usually be at my desk during lunch, this was thirteen hours a day. I would almost always go into the office on Saturday, too. I was routinely working seventy hours a week.

My dear wife, Gail, was patient, but with several small children, she really needed relief. It took some serious marriage counseling for me to realize that my work/life balance was totally out of whack. It was simply not sustainable.

Think of it this way: If you are working more than fifty-five hours a week, you are out of balance. You are putting at risk at least five very important assets.

  1. Your health. Early in my career, I thought I could get by by eating junk food and not exercising. However, I learned that this will inevitably catch up with you. How many people do you know who have died young, simply because they refused to take care of themselves?
  2. Your family. You can’t afford a divorce. The cost is incalculable. Just ask those who have gone through one. You also can’t afford to ignore your children. If you don’t invest in them now, you will be forced to spend time with them later—in rehab, in juve, or worse.
  3. Your friends. Sadly, I didn’t really have any close, personal friends until about five years ago. I thought that my work colleagues and church acquaintances were enough. Not so much. I have several great friends now that mean the world to me. But I must have margin in my life to invest in those relationships.
  4. Your effectiveness. I think you are the most productive when you are relaxed. Work is like golf—or any sport. The harder you work, the less effective you’ll be. You are the most productive when you are not stressed. The number of hours you work has almost zero correlation with your effectiveness.
  5. Your example. Your people will unconsciously mimic you. They can’t help it. As a leader you set the pace. If you work seventy hours a week, your people will think they must work seventy hours a week. Most of them won’t be able to keep up. And you will be responsible for the consequences.

Don’t get me wrong. I still work hard. But now I have boundaries—and balance. I get into the office at 8:30 a.m. and I leave promptly at 6:00 p.m. I also work for two hours on Sunday evening, preparing for the new week. In total that’s about 50 hours—give or take.

If you want to get your life back into balance, I suggest that you grab a copy of my free e-book, Create Your Personal Life Plan. It will equip you to live on-purpose, making time for those things that matter most.

Question: Is your life is in balance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • HTodd

    Thank you so much for this post and its honesty. With the continual pressure to work harder, do more, and achieve better, it is such a reassurance to hear your voice insisting on moderation, restraint and fullness of life.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I believe in working hard, but there is SO much more to life than work.

  • http://www.timemanagementninja.com Craig Jarrow

    Michael,

    Love this post! As my niche is time management, I always find it interesting when leaders and executives “brag” about how many hours a week they are putting in.

    Are you really effective at what you are doing if you are putting in 70+ hours a week?

    And to your point, if you are successful at work… what else are you letting slip? What other areas are you failing at, if you spend 70+ hours at work.

    I once worked with an executive that was celebrated for her work ethic and the amount of time that she spent in the office. Yet, the rest of her life was a mess. Coming apart at the seams.

    If this is one’s definition of success, it needs to be re-examined. :)

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Many times, we sacrifice our time with family and friends for the sake of our career. In my country where the competition is very high (due to very huge population and limited job market), retaining a job for economic security gets preference over all others. As a result, there is no proper work-life balance among professional workforce in my country. Since I am in the budding stage of my career, I find it very difficult to maintain healthy work-life balance. Now, I am trying to improve in this front intentionally.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    My life is about as balanced as the prime time programming on MSNBC.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That’s great Cyberquill

  • http://drewcdavid.com Drew C David

    “I must have margin in my life to invest in those relationships.”

    For me, investing in others is key. Am I planning my time in such a way that that is evident and practiced? I want to answer that with a resounding, “YES!” I think your material – Create Your Personal Life Plan – can help all of us answer that question honestly.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Isn’t it funny? We want to have relationships with others so we work to be able to afford it. Then because of work our relationships get out of whack…. If only balance was easy.

      • http://drewcdavid.com Drew C David

        “If only balance was easy.” – J.L.

        Something always seems to be tipping the scales. It feels like stepping on an Indo Board. There are people that make it look easy, but it requires a lot of attention, muscle memory and careful adjustment.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          But…. Once you know how, it comes easier. Maybe it’s never easy, but just easier. That’s been my experience. Life-long good habits seem to come naturally after so long a time.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I agree. This has been my experience as well.

          • Joe Lalonde

            Jeff, I think that is true too. It’s like the old GI Joe saying – “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”

            Once you KNOW how or what to do, it allows it to become easier.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I love those cartoons!

            But I think you’re right.

        • Joe Lalonde

          It’s true something is, or at least seems, to always be tipping the scales. I think part of it is realizing what our priorities should be. Once you can realize that, I think it can become easier.

  • Davidcooke2003

    A helpful reminder on balance. Thank you. I always like to ask myself and others “Am I having enough fun? Work can too easily become a bore and so too the worker. Mightily blessed by the blog.

  • Timothy Fish

    From experience, I agree, though 55 hours seems very arbitrary. And what is work? I hate those weeks when I put in long hours sitting at a desk in a cubical in a windowless building, but then I go home, put on a different hat and do church related work for several hours. Or I’ll work on a book I’m writing. I’m not one to do nothing. But just because I’m not getting paid for something doesn’t mean it isn’t work. If I counted all work that I do, I would find it impossible to stay within the 55 hour limit, even when I’m on vacation from the regular job.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidGallery DavidGallery

    Here, 3.35AM I’m still awake … deep inside me keep remind me – go to bed, not good for your body. Thanks to bring this up, it really hit me. Life Plan is must.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Keep persisting David! You can overcome imbalance

  • Valerie Norris

    I used to be “unbalanced,” working for a man who demanded complete fealty to the company and didn’t allow employees to have a balanced life. It took an enormous toll on my health, mentally and physically. I’ll never allow that to happen to me again.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have been in situation, where I arrived after other key executives and left before they did. It made me feel uncomfortable, because I am so competitive by nature. I felt like I was being a slacker. The truth is (and I had to remind myself of this), that I was choosing balance, including my family!

    • Joe Lalonde

      Glad to hear that you won’t allow that to happen. It’s hard to say no to those types of hours, but it can be rewarding in ways you never knew.

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    This is a great summation, Michael. The 50 hours seems a reasonable number.

    Sustainability: The key, as you mention, is sustainability. Leaders will have peaks and valleys where more or less time is demanded of them in each role they play. However, to ensure sustainable success, moderation is required. I also believe it is more about work-life alignment than balance. Aligning your professional and personal lives makes work more enjoyable and reduces stress – particularly during those peak hour periods.

  • http://upinthecorner.wordpress.com/ Nic

    The fifty hours definitely seems respectable and reasonable; the timing of your post felt pretty fitting in my life, as I’m about to start my PhD comprehensive exams this morning and have planned to do a set number of hours a day on it rather than pull all-nighters. It helps me put my health,wife and house in just as important of a place. Thanks, Michael, for an awesome piece of inspiration.

    -Nic

  • Anonymous

    I needed this. I’ve been devoting time to considering my time over the past few weeks. It’s tough as a preacher to figure out my exact schedule. Some of what I can consider “work” is personal devotion and growth that I encourage my congregation to do, but they have to do it in addition to their work week. So I’m struggling with figuring out what the proper balance is.

    Right now, I’m in the tracking phase. I’ve purchased an app fro my iPhone on which I’m recording my time just to see where it goes. I think that will help me start figuring out what a good balance is and where things are out of balance.

    By the way, the app is called Eternity Time Log by Komorian. It is pretty simple to use and is very helpful.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for the lead on that app. I think time tracking is the way to start. The next thing I would recommend is creating a weekly time block. This is something I have done for years, but I just realized that I have never written on it!

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Great, Nic. Parkinson’s Law says that, “work expands to the time allotted for it.” If you create hard boundaries, it is amazing what you can get done. Just think how productive we all are the week before we go on vacation!

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I have always noticed how deadlines make me more productive. Crunch-time seems to bring a focus and intensity that I do not necessarily have when there are no boundaries or the boundaries are very distant.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Alignment might indeed be a better word that balance. Thanks for sharing that.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Yep, 55 hours is arbitrary, no doubt. It’s just what I find to be the outer limits of what people can maintain and do the other things that are important. By the way, I am talking about your primary job, not hobbies or other pursuits.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    I totally agree. Butt in seat does not equal productivity!

  • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    Great stuff, Michael. I’ve been thinking about the importance being present with those who are closest to me. As a blogger, it’s easy to get lost in your social network. You probably know this better than anyone. There’s a rush that comes with more twitter followers, blog comments, and people talking about your stuff. But that’s not half as important as investing in your family and close friends. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll look forward to reading about this. I’m not sure what you mean by creating a weekly time block.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is essentially where you create your ideal week—a template of sorts—allocating time to certain kinds of activities. I have a tool for it that I will share in the post. Thanks.

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  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I think a lot of it really has to do with our definition of success. You may identify as a fellow driven person. I’ve had to realize that success is not promotions or power or money or influence, but faithfully following the commands of the Savior. Putting in a lot of office hours and neglecting my family is the same as, for instance, a salesman who excels in current customer relations but absolutely refuses to work on getting new sales – regardless of how many times their manager reminds them to do otherwise.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      True Loren! But, we do not realize this simple fact often

  • Skeptical

    As a pastor, I find myself working 60-70 hours a week. If you count all the time I spent with my people last week, it was about 75 hours. Quality preaching takes times. For me that means 20 hours for the morning message. In addition, you can’t schedule people’s problems, and I’m here to serve. I hear and read a lot about taking care of me, but that’s not how I heard the call of Christ. He told me to forget myself, take up my cross, and die. I fully realize that I can’t serve my people if I’m flat on my back, sick in bed. But I’m concerned that so much of what I read and hear is self-centered and not biblical.

    Please don’t takes this as “I don’t like or site or your insights.” I appreciate both. In response to an earlier comment, you noted that you have never written about creating a weekly time block. Would you consider writing about that soon?

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    I used to think being “busy” was the proper virtue. I’ve since learned it’s far more important to get things done, get the right things done rather than just be “busy”. During periods of my life when I was busiest, I realize I have nothing to show for my effort.

    When I was in the Navy, I had a phase where I was the only technician on the ship for a system that required 6 people. I’d start working early, work late into the night, and skip lunch. I later found that by planning my day, and taking time for lunch and a few breaks, I actually got more done. And I finished earlier. It’s amazing what a little planning and prioritizing can do.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      I concur with you Eric

  • Pete

    I like your description of employees who will unconsciously mimic you. I know of a department at my job whose leader works at least 80 hours a week. In turn, her employees do as well. No one is happy there. I pray that the leader finds work-life balance.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    I love the concept of margin. I think that is the way to think about it.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Amen to that!

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    I understand the challenge. Have you read my post, “Where Do You Put Yourself in Your list of Priorities?” I think Jesus is a great example here:

    He took regular time to draw away from the crowds. There will ALWAYS be more needs than you can meet.

    He didn’t heal every person. He seemingly left a lot of work undone. He had boundaries and respected them.

    He had his own timetable and was willing to be misunderstood. Mary and Martha summoned Him because there brother was deathly sick. Jesus did not drop what he was doing to come to their aid. In fact, he waited two days. Lazarus died. But it all happened for the glory of God.

    Thanks for your comment. I do plan to post on the weekly time block soon.

    • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

      I took about 3 days a month ago to generate my weekly plan, and then haven’t had a normal week since. However, it’s been helpful to get a picture of what needs done. It also allows me to see where the schedule needs to squeeze when there is a crisis that needs me

      Of course, as a PC-user, I’m sure my weekly time block will not look as awesome as it could on a Mac, but such is life :)

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I did the same thing. I took two days to set up my life plan a few months ago. I regularly schedule a Personal Retreat Day, once every 6-8 weeks to review it, spend time in the Word and prayer, and listen to God. And then I review i for an hour once a week, and in 15 minute segmants daily. All just to make sure I’m staying on track.

        The Life Plan has changed my life.

  • http://www.deiricmccann.com Deiric McCann

    On your last point Michael – I think people both unconsciously and consciously mimic this self-destructive behavior. A leader who insists upon a high-profile 60+ hour work week ultimately makes it impossible for those of her/his team who wish to be seen to be aligned not to mimic the behavior.

    In my experience they put in the hours, many then get eaten up by resent that they have to work a pattern that simply does not fit them, and then are not nearly as productive as they might have been had they been free to pursue their own path.

    If you’re a workaholic leader and you have decided that you’re not going to be able to change it – then at least keep it low key. Let others find the rate and pace at which they can contribute the maximum in service of your cause.

    Demand better than average results, make them accountable for delivering at a high level, but don’t insist upon how they work day to day – don’t force your people into being soul-destroyed ‘mini-me’s just to help you past your grief at being unable to fix your own addiction.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I couldn’t agree more. These are all excellent points, especially your last sentence.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That was really instructive. Thanks for sharing Deiric

  • Donald James Parker

    If I didn’t work over 55 hours a week – I wouldn’t get much done for the Lord. I have averaged over 70 hours for 30 years now so the theory that it’s not sustainable would be questionable if you had not qualified it with the “or something will break” clause. During that time I ran thousands of miles, including 4 marathons, biked thousands of miles, and spent countless more hours in the gym keeping my body in shape. But you’re definitively right about the relationship issues. There is a cost to sacrifice. If you’re doing it for the Lord’s work, the compensation far exceeds the sacrifice. If you’re overworking for personal reasons and glory, the cost is definitely too high. I will always regret time lost with my children.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      With your experience, I am sure you could shed some light on what things are truly important to pay attention to over the course of time. I have three young children and I have finally come to the point of realizing that I have to make decisions daily so that too much time does not slip away.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJRLITL5IEFHDDFURAESLXOOZ4 Jim Whitaker

    Very good post. I used to be one of those people who took work home and worked entirely too much. It just hurt me, my family and eventually my work. I fine that if I do my work during the predefined work hours and that time only that I am much better, more effective and my life is in balance. The worst part about it was that it caused me to eat unhealthy and be unhealthy and thus gain a lot of weight that I did not need. Now I have been working on it for a few years now and as the old saying goes it is harder to get rid of the weight than it is to gain it. But it is slowly coming around. I have learned that if you take slow steps and get the weight off the right way that it usually does not come back. I also sacrificed my married to the point where there was almost a divorce, but once I got it in balance things have gotten much better and I have never been more happier in my family life than now. I have to empathize with you on the friend part too. I did not have any close friends at all. Church lacked completely. Now I am able to be active in church and have several good friendships. As to your effectiveness part, I believe that each of us has a tipping point. At the tipping point we are our most effective. Work less than the tipping point and you don’t do a good job, work more than the tipping point and your work suffers from it. Working at the tipping point has made me more effective and freed up my time to do more creative things, to grow spiritually and has provided me an opportunity to give back. This is the best example we can give to our co-workers, friends and family.

  • Cgraw2

    I enjoyed the post. What a sad life that was. There must have been very little time for God. I think we can take a lesson from those who lived through the depression. Life was simple and pure. I love the life style of the Waltons. There’s nothing better than family. My father died last year with my mother, myself , 3 siblings and 11 grandchildren at his bedside. He didn’t leave much money, but boy, was my father rich. And….he died knowing that his family would be following him to Heaven someday. What a way to live….what a way to die.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fred-McKinnon/631515675 Fred McKinnon

    Mike,
    Great post this morning … and resonates with me. As a full-time Worship Pastor in a larger church (1500+), a father of 4 young kids (10 and under), a husband, and an entrepreneur with a large e-commerce business and publisher of several blogs and ezines … well, ’nuff said. I’ve worked hard in the past year to delegate, to hire assistants and workers, and to make time for what counts.

    Of all the things you mention, the one thing I’m struggling with the most right now is #3, “Your Friends”. You remember Randy’s talk at re:create, when we had to write down ONE WORD? I was too fearful to write what I thought … but the first word that came to my mind was “lonely”.

    This kind of life leaves very little room for close friendships outside of the office … and even when I try, it seems most people who are in a similar season of life are also too busy to develop genuine friendships. So .. it’s something I’m being intentional about seeking. (maybe it’s me, haha!)

    After I hired some employees and trained them to do what I was doing … I realized that I was working an average of 100 hours per week, easily. That’s just insane. Not anymore!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Fred. I think friendships are so important—and soul-healing.

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Wow a great post Mike,
    Definitely we need to take care of ourselves first before we take care of other people, specially our loved ones.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great topic, Michael. One thing I learned the hard way is that work-life balance also includes commute time. My wife and I have always been commuters, choosing to live where housing is cheaper and the neighborhoods safer. Unfortunately a lot of other folks had the same idea and the traffic increased year after year. What started out as a 45 minute commute to work soon was 90 minutes each way. If it rained it could easily be over two hours to get to work. For years my wife would commute one way and I would commute the other. This made it really hard to do things after work.

    I use a calculator now when looking at job opportunities. I add in the commute time, plus the extra hours required on the job and divide by the salary. I’ll give a simple example. Lets take a $10/hour job and a 40 hour work week as a base line. That would be $400/week. If I add in an hour commute each way to work, I now have a 50 hour work week for the same $400/week or an $8/hour job. Add in additional job responsibilities and we can easily have a 60 hour work week or a $6.65/hour job. This doesn’t even begin to address $4.00 a gallon gas and the wear and tear on a car. When you add it all together, it really takes a toll!

    Bottom line, count the cost. We all get 24 hours a day… no more … no less. How we spend it is up to us.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks especially for the calculation. I don’t necessarily enjoy the commute, but I do put it to good use. I see the car as my “rolling prayer closet” or my “conference on wheels.” I love either praying for listening to audio books or conference talks.

    • TNeal

      John,

      An excellent illustration of your bottom line which actually is the bottom line. Count the cost…that sounds vaguely familiar to what a Friend of mine once said.

  • http://twitter.com/theule theule

    Michael – thanks for the reminder…
    In my world we have dropped the balance metaphor though and have taken up the rhythm metaphor…as it seems like balance only happens from time to time, but we can find healthy rhythms in our days, weeks, months, and years.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Rhythm is probably a better metaphor. I also use this one, too. I am especially fond of the work of Tony Schwartz in this regard. His book, Be Excellent at Anything (formerly titled The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working), is must-reading.

  • http://www.eastafricametaproject.org/ Steve Barkley

    It was much easier for me to separate work and personal life when I was in the corporate world. I could walk away from work and leave everything at the office, mentally and physically. It was almost as though I was leading two different lives, and they rarely intersected. Now, as a small business owner, this is much more challenging. I have much more passion and enjoyment for what I am doing, but the line between work and personal life is also much more blurred.

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      Exactly. And when your commute to work is a matter of a few steps instead of a few miles, that line blurs to almost non-existence.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        When I used to work out of my house in the 90s, this was a constant challenge.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Great words there Mike. So many people don’t realize that working too much can be harmful. So often we’re pushed for more, more, more! We need to learn moderation and when to say “enough”. Thanks again for the encouragement!

  • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

    Thank you for the post.

    As a young guy in ministry, I have seen the need to balance life and be sure to meet the needs of my family. By no means have I arrived, but there is more balance than there used to be.

    Looking forward to the post on time blocks

  • Joe Lalonde

    Great comment Craig! So very true.

  • TNeal

    The golf connection makes to a lot of sense to me. I’m no avid golfer but I like to hit the links at least every five years (or at least that’s my excuse when I play a round with friends). I know when I need a longer drive the temptation is to add more effort, to swing harder, and the results are never positive. Never!

  • Chris Steenmeyer

    Brief, but very powerful article. I am in the process of restructuring my schedule due to this realization. I had been thinking about this for weeks now and this past week decided to make the change. Financially, it is requiring me to take a step of faith as I am having to cut a bunch of hours with one of my jobs. But, I was seeing my energy levels drop tremendously as the weeks kept going by. I didn’t want my ministry work and relationships with my friends and family to suffer due to my lack of energy.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I pray that the change goes well for you. May God provide the financial resource you need and continue to bless your ministry and relationships!

      Nice to see you commenting on here brother :)

  • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

    “I can’t do everything.”

    Until we learn that truth, we will be driven by the “tyranny of the urgent”. Living with margin is actually the art of choosing what NOT to do.

    And you’re right, a powerful golf swing is not the result of more effort, but more efficiency. So is a powerful schedule.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Agreed. I think it is periodically helpful to create a Not To-do List.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I have been trying to practice the art of saying “NO”. It is difficult when there are so many good things out there that we can connect with. Margin is so essential!

  • http://twitter.com/chrisrwesley Chris Wesley

    Great post, surprised that 55 hours is the limit, I try to keep it below 50. I agree there will be seasons where it gets out of control, but I think the hardest part is saying no to bringing work home…those are hours I don’t think we count.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I was trying to be liberal. ;-) Like you, I try to keep it below 50, too.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I used to worry about what wouldn’t get done if I cut my hours down to where thy needed to be. But now, after the big rocks are in, if I don’t get it done, it sn’t really all that big of a deal.

        • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

          Priorities! And not letting the little things become more important than they should. Excellent point!

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            The sad thing is I know this, but it’s really hard to consistently do this.

          • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

            So true. There are days I do well with it and many days that I need a lot of help…

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I understand that.

  • TNeal

    In dealing with the hours worked, I am reminded of an observation from hearing football coaches who’d won state and national championships. Most of them have a plan to get onto and off of the practice field in less time than you’d think. More practice hours, in this case, didn’t equal better game performances. They focused on the fundamentals, designed practices that had little wasted time, and got more done. Kind of sounds like a life plan where you focus on the essentials and trim the non-essentials.

    • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

      Interesting thought. I lead a music ministry, and I’m going to think through this regarding our rehearsals.

      Thanks for the thought!

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        I have seen this work in music ministries that I have been a part of. The musicians (and their families) really appreciated a focused rehearsal, keeping the important things important, not letting the un-important things extend the rehearsals, and then getting everyone home on time (or even early). We accomplished a lot more than we expected in a shorter amount of time.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      That’s a great picture. We can easily take this and apply it in so many areas of our life. More does not always equal better. Create a purposeful plan and stick with it. I like it.

  • Carla

    yep it is so true. in natural healing we talk about finding balance and margins for relationships. we also talk about the fact that our body will take the consequences of unbalanced living and eventually something big will break. for me, it was my back, just one year ago. life has changed dramatically and for the better.
    like you, when I was young I worked crazy hours out of fear of failure but also out of fear of my boss. in a Christian organization I was told that to “go the extra mile” meant not less than 60 hours a week and if I REALLY loved and wanted to serve God, I would work 80 hours! today we would say that was sick. it was sick then and I got sick many times trying to live up to such unrealistic expectations.

    nonetheless it took until I broke my back at 57 years old to realize it is time to put life back into balance. When you can do nothing for almost 12 weeks you learn to pray, rest, rest, read, rest, call and pray for people over the phone, rest……

    point being, as I have learned to put all the pieces into balance I am productive, fulfilled, involved in “unpaid servant” opportunities and even play with my horse several hours a week plus my dog and I are taking Animal Assisted Therapy certification classes @http://dogtors.com/

    I love life, find lots of time for the Word and reading and friends and ministry and work! Thanks!

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  • http://twitter.com/spencemcdonald Spencer McDonald

    I did download a copy of your book Create Your Personal Life Plan and have devoured every word. I found your book different than most I have read. Your book seemed complete and helped me take a big picture look at the most important things in my life. Right now I am letting some of those thoughts stew. What I am concluding is my life is out of balance. I seem to have all the small things in my jar of life and now there is no room for the big rocks. I think I need to begin with a clearing. The contents need to be dumped out and begin again by defining and placing the important (big rocks) thing back into my jar of life. Thank you Michael for an outstanding blog and great content. You are an inspiration for me and I’m sure millions more.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this affirmation. I am delighted that you have found it helpful.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    True. Balance is key in everything!

  • Joe Lalonde

    Good words David. We’ve got to remember what’s important in the long run!

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Yes we do. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/KellySchuknecht Kelly Schuknecht

    Part of me does not want to believe this. I always think that hard work pays off and more hard work will pay off more. I appreciate your openness and honesty in this post. My mother always reminds me of the quote, “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.” When you love your work, it’s hard to think of anything else, but family, friends and our own health/sanity are all equally (if not more) important. Thank you, Michael, for sharing some of your own personal struggles with this and what you have learned.

  • http://twitter.com/jonmholcomb Jonathan Holcomb

    Really good post. My wife and I are reading on this subject in one of Andy Stanley’s older books, “Choosing to Cheat”. Great book on what happens when work and family collide and the consequences we face when we choose to cheat our family.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      We originally published that book. I agree it is a great one!

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    It’s not too surprising to see that the number of our works has almost zero correlation with effectiveness. Being relaxed and focused goes a long way, but we must be willing to take the time to relax and focus!

  • http://www.inspirebusinessconcepts.com Scott Arrieta

    Wow. This is a great post. Thanks for being so vulnerable here. I’ve had to learn this lesson myself fairly recently, and it really helps to have someone at your level validate the premise that work isn’t and shouldn’t be everything.

    There was a period of my career when I became addicted to my own success. Everything seemed to be going my way, and like a junkie trying to perpetuate a high, I just kept going back for more. Before long, I was working 60 hour weeks, neglecting my friends, and becoming more and more self-centered by the day.

    What finally snapped me out of it was when an old mentor of mine took me out to lunch one day and confronted me about it. He pointed out that as soon as I had attained the same job level as he had, I became very cold towards him. Thinking back, I knew this to be true. Consciously or subconsciously, I had seen him as competition for that next promotion, and had robbed myself of one of the best mentors I’ve every had as a result.

    Your post was a great reminder of why it’s important not to become that person ever again.

    Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thank God for friends like that!

  • http://twitter.com/JoshuaSandefur Joshua Sandefur

    This hits home with me in a little different way, but it still reigns true. Thankfully at my employment, I can only work 40 hours because overtime is not approved and I am not on salary but hourly. My schedule is varied with my days off being different each week. I also write each day towards completing a manuscript. These five areas definitely bring some reality of what is truly important in a person’s life. I am going to take some time today to look at the areas of my life where things can be adjusted to bring priority to these areas. Thank you for this post.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this. I can relate to the part of following someone’s example. If I see someone working that many hours, then I start to take that on as well. It’s the last thing I want to do. I appreciate the authenticity in your posts.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    As a pastor, I find it ironic that you criticize anonymously, don’t you yourself dislike when someone criticizes you anonymously?

    Like Michael said, Jesus took regular time away from others. We can’t serve people if we work our selves to death. And just like example 4: The number of hours you work has almost zero correlation with your effectiveness.

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

    AMEN! I worked myself out of a job by working 60 hours a week when I re-organized the Chamber of Commerce in my town. I lugged this two-ton-tillly up the mountain and after 18 months, the new president decided he wanted to go in a “different” direction. After a couple of years of cogitating, I realized he really was opposed to Jesus in me. Oh, well, live and learn and forgive! I should exercise more, and I should do more things outside than just mowing the lawn. Knowing it and doing it are two different things. Only God can give me strength to break out of this mold and into a more healthy way of living. Although, today I am doing what I love and what God has motivated me to do which counterbalances with much, much lower stress levels.

  • Anonymous

    We had an insightful conversation about addictions around our dinner table. Our kids were free to tell my husband and I what they thought were our addictions. By far, my kids said I was a workaholic. Ouch. I am doing better, but I am alert to it. Lord Jesus, help me.

  • Travis Dommert

    Brilliant. Are people listening? This is truth…as real as it gets. Life is not about how high you can swing your pendulum, only to have it swing back the other way (hard at times); it’s about keeping your tire full, round, and rolling in the right direction. Work, love, play, give thanks…repeat.

    This goes beyond personal definitions of success. As the leader, you set the tone and definition for success for your entire organization. You must have faith that building great people is great business.

    What would the customer experience be like if your people were encouraged (by example) to be balanced, engaged, passionate, well-rounded, REAL people? How does this idea effect loyalty, retention, recruiting, productivity…have faith, this works.

    • TNeal

      Love your “tire full, round, and rolling in the right direction” analogy.

  • Anonymous

    I do my best to make sure that the hours I spend in the office is quality work time. It’s so easy to get caught up in 2-3 conversations and a good 2 hours is gone. Our office is full of open cubicles and it’s easy to get caught up in side conversations. I keep my MP3 player with me now.

    I’m amazed that 2-3 hours over the weekend will be more productive than 8 hours during the week. I’m trying to reverse that.

    I really appreciate this post. When I read the Word I’m amazed at how balanced Jesus was. He slept, he didn’t heal everyone who was sick and he had good friends.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep. And I gave Himself a three-year window to get it all done. Really amazing when you think about it.

  • http://twitter.com/BrettVaden Brett Vaden

    I am trying to create what I call “safe sacred space” in my home. To do this, I have to create boundaries to protect my family, my own well-being, and my relationship with Jesus Christ, so that outside responsibilities don’t encroach on what’s most important. Easier said than done, but it must be done.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Conversely (and I think this is what you are also saying), it helps to have dedicated work space.

  • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

    While I am not in a position of leadership in my company I can see how important this balance is. I was just reading through your Life Plan e-book last night and realized some things that need to change if I want to reach my ideal future. Thanks for sharing these insights.

  • Brian Gentry

    Your article is timely. Been spending a lot of time reflecting on this the past few days. I “hit the wall” a few years ago and made some much needed changes, but I’ve found that a balanced life takes maintenance.
    Thanks for sharing your insights and life experiance.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have to routinely recalibrate my life. Maintaining balance takes conscious, deliberate effort!

  • http://blog.capturingcourage.org Cyndy Lavoie

    I love this post! I have only in the last year found ‘my stride’ so to speak, where I am working about 50 hours a week and loving it. Finally I am in fifth gear going down the highway, and not trying freeway driving in 3rd gear, which of course is exhausting.

    As a woman I’ve had a lot of pressure to ‘do less’, and while this might make sense to a lot of people around me, it is not my optimum pace, and I only found myself more tired and ultimately depressed and certainly unfulfilled.

    Since finding my stride, my energy is up, my health is improving, my relationships are richer because I have so much more to bring to the table, and I am loving life! So thank-you for stating that a balanced week has 50+ hours of work in it, I give a hearty Amen!!

  • Rabrooks1

    Thanks for the great reminder. Balance has been a key word for me for many years, but it is so easy to get ‘out of balance.” Anything out of balance eventually breaks or ends up in a ditch.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a perfect extension of the metaphor.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Pro

    Thank you for this. I used to work at a major tech company and averaged 60 hrs a week for about 6 months before leaving that job. In just that 6 months it took a toll on my marriage, kids and life outside of work. I’m at a job now that definitely promotes a more healthy work/life balance and am very grateful for that.

    Thank you for the reminder about friends. I’m in a “season” of life where I’m juggling work and family while finishing an MBA. Fortunately I will be graduating this summer, but I feel like these 2 years have been kind of lonely in the friend department.

  • http://frankjkenny.com Frank J. Kenny

    Thanks for posting this Michael. I have often correlated long hours and activity with effectiveness. I know better now but still find myself putting to much time into doing it, doing it, doing it (hat tip Michael Gerber).

    Frank

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Michael Gerber is great. He had a huge influence on me.

  • Anonymous

    I found myself in this very same predicament. I am working 70+ hours on my business in order to make it a success. However, I’m neglecting the people that mean the most to me, my wife and daughter. This post helped to put things in perspective for me. I truly need to prioritize and start on your Personal Life Plan immediately.

  • http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com/ LivewithFlair

    Great words today! I just learned from my One-Eyed Cat, Jack, the importance of basking in the sun and resting. I literally stopped working to enjoy the sun with him. Here’s a picture, enjoy: http://livewithflair.blogspot.com/2011/03/sneaking-up-on-jack-i-caught-him-doing.html

  • http://www.jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy@confessionsofalegalist

    As you point on in your ebook about creating a personal life plan, sometimes we just let things happen in life. We can make choices about things like this, but it does take time and effort to put a good plan in place. Bad things happen to both good and bad people, but some respond and come up with a good plan to deal with it.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    I like the concept of alignment. It is a much different picture when personal life and professional life can support one another and enhance one another versus when they are in conflict.

  • http://twitter.com/KarynBrownlee Karyn Brownlee

    I’d love a copy of the Life Plan e-book. I tried to get it following the directions, but my form may have landed in pile for “completed requests” since I’m already a subscriber. Many blessings to you for a great day!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Email me at michael dot hyatt at gmail dot com and I will send you a link.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    You are so right. It is incredibly easy to spend hours and hours in our digital environment – doing good things; yet, to the exclusion of family and friends. I think this would be a good place to put some boundaries on how much time we give to these different activities – at least that is what I am trying to work on.

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      Well said, Steven. I personally try and keep my evenings free of social networks to spend time with my wife. I don’t always succeed though :)

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Same David! I too go through similar struggle.

  • http://twitter.com/kpalmer71 Kerry Palmer

    Michael,

    You are really singing my song with this one! I have seen people get completely burned out because all they did was work. They wake up one day and realize that their kids are gone, and they simply can’t get those years back.

    A few weeks ago, our former pastor was preaching on this topic while filling in for the current pastor. I was sitting on the second row with my son’s head in my lap. The preacher looked right at me, in the middle of his sermon, paused, and said, “Kerry, you be sure and spend time with those kids.” I nodded as my eyes welled up with tears for a moment. What a wake up call!

    I firmly believe that this concept is very important. Thanks so much for posting on it!

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Domeij

    Great advice. The problem? When you work for a “ministry” that sets unrealistic deadlines. I once worked on a wonderful project harnessing my creativity and ministry passion. Marketing set the launch dates of the series. However, the deadline wasn’t based on a realistic production schedule. Unfortunately, the project managers were too busy being afraid of the famous founder, pandering for his affirmation or jockeying for more power. Another team member and I sacrificed our health and our families to work long hours to make those deadlines. When the project neared completion my team member and I suffered from sleep deprivation and depression due to sheer emotional and physical exhaustion. Even though I LOVED the project, I often envisioned that ministry’s inner workings as nothing but a bunch of gears turning and grinding away, shearing off human arms, legs and eventually hearts and faith—crushed between dysfunctional political workings. I often wondered, “How can God bless a project covered in blood?”

    The result? The project made the author beaucoup bucks and famous. The ministry raked in dollars. God used what I loved most about that series and felt most passionately about–His Word–to impact millions of Christian’s understanding of Scripture.

    Was it worth it? My sons who’d loved, loved, loved that ministry saw that ministry as nothing but a sham, a business—not an example to follow. If the children of employees of ministries aren’t beneficiaries of a ministry’s mission statement, pray tell, what’s the purpose of that ministry? Does living out the gospel start in our ministries or does it merely project an image to donors? Hmmm…shades of Sermon on the Mount.

    Once when I shared a sliver of my experience, I was slammed by “Christian” commenters who said, “You did it to yourself.” Possibly. I bought into “sacrifice for Christ,” translated “the ministry.” But as a single mom not receiving court-ordered child support, I felt desperate to provide for my family. When you rattle doorknobs-to-new-opportunities that don’t swing open and you’re cornered, you work hard to just survive.

    Now I work in my home business caring for disabled individuals. I love them, treat them with respect and enrich their lives. And my precious gifts from God make it possible for me to write, minister to others and live a peaceful life. Now when the unexpected sabotages my daily plans, I actually possess the power to set boundaries and move deadlines forward. I’m humbled and thank God every day for how he has blessed my responsible, reliable, honest, wonderful sons and my life. And that project that blew apart equilibrium in every area of my life? I still LOVE God’s amazing truths revealed by that series, what I learned, and feel very happy about what God taught me about Himself as a result of that annus horribilis.

    Lessons learned? 1.) The disconnect between what Christian media empires say publicly and how they actually act privately. 2.) I no longer am willing to offer my God-given gifts to further someone else’s agenda—especially when they fail to thank or value their people. 3.) I evaluate the fruit of those with the power to make a difference or lead by example. Do they ignore or engage in respectful dialogue with the voices of those investing their time, hearts and lives in their “ministry” visions?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Wow. What an experience. It sounds like you have really learned from it. Tragically, I know many similar ministries.

      • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Domeij

        I waited an hour after the words streamed through my fingers and felt frightened to click “Post as” and then castigated myself this afternoon for posting it. At the time, I never, ever guessed God would use my second worst life disenchantment to free me to know his grace and peace in my life today. I would not trade that experience because it made me know (epignosis) God and trust His Word in ways I wouldn’t otherwise. Could write a book “When Christians Don’t Make Sense, God Does.” He really, really does. (Self-critique: Always delete the adverb “really.” Smile.)

    • TNeal

      Powerful imagery with the grinding wheels followed by a challenging question: “How can God bless a project covered in blood?”

      Sounds like you embraced wisdom from the experience and are able to translate your experience into helpful advice to others. A well-written, clear picture.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Hey Mr. Hyatt, I just wanted to ask you your opinion on wordpress.com. I am thinking about swicthing to this from my webs blog. The only thing I am hesitant on is the stuff that I have already posted. I do not want to lose those posts because they generate traffic. Do you think I should still switch?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I can’t answer that. I’m sorry. I am not familiar with webs at all.

  • Andrew Acker

    Achiever as the #1 strength, great ally and enemy. It can be especially bad when responsibility is my #2. This post gives great precaution to possible work/life tendencies and habits that could become a lot worse for me in the future if unresolved. It is amazing how fear can drive us in moments of uncertainty. Sometimes it’s fear of, other times it is pride of not wanting to lose credibility or seem like I don’t have all the answers.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, fear and pride are a witch’s brew!

  • http://www.allgroanup.com Paul Angone

    This last month I launched a website about the same time my wife “launched” our first baby girl, which if you can believe, was about the same time sleep became a distant memory. Some might call this poorly planned on my part…I call it…VERY poorly planned…

    It’s seems even harder nowadays when we’re trying to pursue those big dreams on top of our 40 hour, on top of our family. It seems the dream is to have it all. But is this even possible??

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think you can have it all, but maybe not all at once. There are different seasons of life. Some things have to go during certain seasons. That’s why it is important to be intentional and decide with your spouse what you are going to cut back on in order to maintain balance.

      • http://www.allgroanup.com Paul Angone

        Thank you Mr. Hyatt for this advice. I have taken it to heart. Definitely a continual conversation I need to have with my wife…

        Being mentored through a blog across the countryby a CEO….I love technology…

  • http://cynthiaherron.wordpress.com Cynthia Herron

    Thank you so much for your honesty! Many, many years ago I was hired for a position in which I was promised, “Oh, no more than 45 hrs per wk. tops.” After a mere five days, 45 hrs easily turned into 50+. I had a husband and a young child at the time. As you indicated, we learn from our mistakes.

    I learned. Fast! I had a decision to make. Almost 17 yrs. later, I know I made the right one!

  • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

    Great points on having a balance in life. I think as leaders one of our first priority’s is to be able to lead our self’s. Maintaining a balance in life is key to leading yourself.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree with this. It starts with us!

  • http://taminprogress.com tam

    #4. I’ve worked under highly stressful situations, and people, and have always produced the very worst of my abilities from doing so.

  • http://bentune.blogspot.com/ Ben Tune

    “Part of what drove me was fear. I didn’t have any experience, and I was scared to death I would be found out.” That reminds me of something I wrote in my journal once:

    Every day I expect someone will discover how truly incompetent I am.
    They will discover I have been faking everyone out.
    Not on purpose. I work hard. I want to do a good job. I just don’t get it sometimes. Most times.

    I’m glad to be past those feelings – and I’m sure you are, too. My life is more balanced now than it has been in a long time.

    Thanks for being vulnerable again.

  • Mom-of-3

    Great reminder to all, including us that don’t have the “paying” jobs too. As a stay-at-home mom I have found that I forget to balance my life with “me” time. I’ve changed that this year with exercise and doing one of the things I love the most: reading! I am going back to work soon and plan to keep those things in place when the new responsibilities start to try their hand at creating imbalance:-)

  • Krysta Masciale

    I love this post. I too have Achiever in my Top 5 and have to constantly reel myself back if I’m going to live a healthier, more holistic life. I can definitely tell when I’ve made the decision to let that strength dominate … my body feels it and so do my relationships. It’s funny how the simple pursuit of achievement can create an illusion of accomplishment, when often it’s merely a distraction from reality. Thanks for making me think :)

  • http://www.yuzzi.com Rick Yuzzi

    My life is in balance, and I keep it that way. In a meeting a CEO once told us all that if we weren’t putting in more than 60 hours a week, we probably shouldn’t be there. I ignored him, and am glad I did.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It would be interesting to see how his life turned out. Last night I was on a flight with a former CEO who was on his third marriage. He seemed very sad.

  • Monica

    I am a young widow – my husband died suddenly six days after my 33rd birthday. We have two children. Almost seven years have passed since that moment and the pace of these last few years trying to be mom and dad, breadwinner, financial manager, household manager, spiritual leader and so much more, has begun to catch up with me. Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.

    Thank you for being willing to post about balance and setting boundaries. The Lord keeps putting this information in front of me and is using a variety of sources to help me see that I need to clear my plate and reprioritize where my I am spending my time.

  • hiseyes

    One may think that they are in balance but not know that they are out of balance. It is all a matter of point of reference and perspective. Who’s point of reference and perspective do you have?

  • http://twitter.com/jakemusselman Jacob Musselman

    This is such a good post, and the comments are fantastic. A hugely important conversation.

    I love the picture of the tightrope walker because I think it typifies what it means to stay in balance. When I used to hear the word “balance” I thought it meant every area equal all the time. And too me that was a ridiculous notion. There was no way I could see that working.

    Then I began to realize that not everything is equal-not everything deserves equal attention. And the things that are really important are not usually held in balance constantly. Just like the tightrope walker constantly adjusts where they are putting pressure on their foot, my life requires different pressures at different times. Sometime more pressure at work, sometimes more pressure on family. sometimes more pressure on fun, etc. When I came to understand balance as a constant process of changing the pressure of my life so I could remain standing, it completely changed my scheduling.

    As a side note, tightrope walkers with the really long poles that are used to help them balance easier, everybody needs those (i.e. church, friends, counselors, honest conversations with spouses).

    As one who is also an Achiever and loves to win, I cannot be reminded of this too much.

  • http://www.garythomas.co.uk Gsthomas

    Your statement about friends really hit home to me. I now have a small group of friends, a couple I have had over 10 years now, but have only recently started being honest with them about the troubles I’ve had, which has helped.
    Also, as a creative, especially writers, its tough to find stuff to do that ‘isn’t work’. Though I’m still working on that one. Thanks for posting.

  • CEB

    Nice post, but we must be careful with generalized comments about divorce. Certainly, divorce caused by a lack of life balance can and should be avoided. There are many instances though when divorce can be the best answer for husband, wife, AND children. As for the “cost,” in financial terms, it proved to be quite difficult. In my case, those difficulties have been minimalized by an amazing second marriage and my discovery of what unconditional love really is. As for rehab, juve, or worse…My two children have prospered, including a fine young man who attended the U.S. Naval Academy.

    Life balance is extremely important, but possessing the courage and wisdom to do what is right trumps it any day.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t disagree with this. Life is incredibly complicated. I would never presume to judge an individual on this matter.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    Mike, I love and hate this. Love it, because it speaks to where I need to grow. Hate it, because it speaks to where I need to grow…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I so hear you!

      • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

        reading your book right now. enjoying it.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Jeff.

          • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

            great for airplanes!

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I am firm believer in working hard for 8 hours and getting home to be with my family. Focus on the task at hand in order to be productive so I don’t have to worry about work when I am at home.

  • RogerP

    Wow I needed this today, I serve as a V.P. in a large Christian Organization and the pressure is great but how much greater when out of balance… I am always wondering where is the line of working hard and then pride just getting in the way or pressures that are only there because I have created them. Thank you for being willing to say it is more then just working more hours, but rather the right hours applied to the right things! I am young enough that I hope that I learn it now before it is to late!

  • http://www.chadgibbs.com Chad Gibbs

    During my wife’s pediatric residency she averaged 70-80 hours a week. It probably wasn’t great for her health or our marriage, but it worked wonders for my short game. She finished in June and now works much more normal hours. My golf game has gone to the pits, but it’s great to have her back.

  • http://ichrch.com iCHRCH (Rich Langton)

    This is such great advice! It came just at a time when I had been thinking about the amount sleep I’m getting. On reflection I see that our sleep, or lack there of, is inadvertently a reflection of our perception as to who is in charge…. me, or God. Your post, reminds me of the same thing. When we work too much, we are essentially saying “I’ve got to get this all done because I’m in charge”. Yes work is important, and getting the right things done is of course important… but so too is balance…. so too is rest. In the end, I’m not in charge, but the God I serve is!

  • Tallytowneades

    For a lot of us the balance is the other way. We just try to get 40 to help out our family.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Why is it that every time I read your blog, you hit me where I live?

    This topic is so relevant! I wouldn’t say that my life is out of balance, but it sure seems that way occasionally. We have five kids, ages 11, 8, 7, 2, and 3 months. Life can get VERY hectic right now for us.

    I have created a Life Plan, and have been using it for the last 6 months. My life is in more order now that it ever has been. But it can still feel overwhelming when tw kids are crying, two more are fighting, and one is pouting because she didn’t get her way. Or something.

    We’ve continually had to fight to keep things in balance. And to be honest, proper eating and exercise habits are the last thing we seem to have room for right now, even though we know just how crucial they are. And so, we’ve stepped up our efforts in those areas: LoseIt.com, gym membership, healthy foods vs fast food, etc.

    Thanks for a great reminder of why I do what I do!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    So many families are destroyed today due to what we label “work-ethic.”

  • http://todaymade.com/blog Garrett Moon

    Great advice Michael. I think the most important point you made was effectiveness. I am learning more and more that more time doesn’t necessarily lead to more work. Late nights and a few days of ultra-productivity almost always lead to a few days of low productivity.

    I think the hard part with this is just changing my mindset. It is really difficult to just turn off work, most of the time, especially as someone running my own company. We all need to learn how to make effective but balanced work a habitual part of our life. Or, as your book might say, a Life Plan.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, as always.

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  • http://ryanwakefield.com/ Ryan Wakefield

    I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about or explored the idea of health versus balance? It seems to me that living a healthy life is similar to balance, but it also allows for seasons where things might seem out of balance. For example, a healthy lawn begins with a balanced soil. But, even though the base is balanced there are certain seasons, that are healthy, that sure don’t seem balanced. (Spring and winter.) It would appear that something could be healthy and still have one aspect that is balanced and one that in unbalanced. Ultimately, as you point out, the foundational aspects have to stay balanced for a healthy life. Thanks for your insight.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s an interesting question. I’ll have to ponder it.

  • http://bentune.blogspot.com/ Ben Tune

    I just counted up my hours for the week and I’m up to 52.5 so far. Looks like I need to re-read your post.

  • Drew12345

    Great post. Balance is so important. I’m curious about one thing, though, and would love to know your thoughts. You mentioned that earlier in your career you were working up to 70 hours a week. Do you think you would have made it to your current position if you had worked a maximum 55 hour week earlier in your career?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think I would have. Parkin’s Law applies here: “Work expands to the time allotted for it.” In other words, I think having hard boundaries would have resulted in me being just as productive.

  • http://www.littlenaturalcottage.com Kristy Howard

    I’m a stay-at-home mother. I’m sure people look at my life (with four small children!) and think, “And how could YOU be over doing it, honey?” My “office” is my kitchen, for pity’s sake! :)

    While reading your post, it didn’t take long for me to realize that ANYONE’s life can be out-of-balance– even mine.

    It seems pious to “sacrifice” and stay at home for your family and all, but even mother can be distracted. I can be at home and not really BE at home. Not connected with my children, my husband, or even the Lord.

    We all have to prioritize. Regularly. Sometimes it takes the spot light of the Holy Spirit to point out just where our imbalances lie.

  • http://twitter.com/carmenhill Carmen Hill

    Ack! This hits very close to home right now. Thanks for the reminder and wise perspective.

  • Guest

    some people are not rich enough for this.

  • Javed Mortuza

    Thanks for the great post! Until I read it, I didn’t think about the sacrifices I was making by working those crazy hours. It was an eye opener.

  • Frank4

    I am a family man and Christian. I run a slowly growing business with a small group of work-at-home employees, and I also work/travel 50+ hours a week consulting. I’ve been doing this routine for 4 years straight, not to mention the 60+ hours/week of consulting during the previous 10 years when I was younger. I have been unsuccessful in making time to simply be creative about my realtionships for many years. In addition, the things that are truly important to me are constantly taking a back-burner to what “buzzes” the loudest to get my attention. My health is borderline, not including my significant increase in weight. I believe the only reason I’m still effective at business is because I make decisions very quickly and I delegate alot.

    I rarely keep in touch with my friends. I don’t even have time to go on Facebook. And most importantly, I can see my family very vividly slipping away, and they (mostly my wife) are the 4 most important people to me on this earth. My biggest complaint from my wife is my inability to “follow-thru” with the things I start. And she now feels like she’s the least important thing in my life. Nothow I feel at all, but I understand why she would conclude this.

    I always thought that as soon as the business takes off, I can stop working all these consulting hours. But I now know that that will be too late.

    The business looks promissing, but we began just before the big recession and it’s been slow moving, although moving in a positive direction. Between the initial purchase and putting it on its feet, the business has racked up a good amount of debt which we have begun servicing this year for the next 5 years at this rate; tranlsated: I can’t bring in less than we’re bringing in now.

    I can only hope that stopping this maddness right now will save my marriage and allow me to to start directing my family with more purpose.

    I’m hoping something in the free e-book helps me make this big shift.

    God bless.

    Frank4

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I hope it does, too, Frank. There’s a lot at stake. I would encourage you to do the life plan. Just articulating what you want out of life will make a big difference, even if you don’t know how to get there.

  • Dawsonjj

    It sounds nice to be able to control work hours, but for many people our hours are dictated by our supervisors, managers or CEOs. I owned my own business for 15 years and worked 70 hours per week, I was never tired as I enjoyed the business immensely. But you are right in the fact it took a lot away from my two children and wife and really myself. 
    But since that time I have work for several companies who have the attitude, if you don’t like the work schedules, go somewhere else. Your time is mine and that is all here is to it. I am now 64 working under those same conditions. I don’t have the drive I once had which is okay, but when employees cannot make a difference in how the company is to achieve success and opinions are not acceptable, and there are no policies or procedures for our jobs, it really makes for what I would call a hostile work environment. I have worked 3 different shifts per week. Only two others have this problem. The rest work straight shifts and we have no recourse. So, sadly the only recourse we have to quit. I am convinced management is trying to force the issue and hire in people of there choice. I am wanting to hang on for another 2 years, but it is difficult. 

  • olivier

    Started new business but along with it came more drinking and more fatigue

  • olivier

    Kids to take care of with shared custody as well as sheep and chickens…very unbalanced …scary

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesgray James Gray

    Michael, great post and I share similar views. I encourage people to create a simple visual on what “balance” looks like so they can recognize when life is not. Here is a post I wrote some time back on how I did this many years ago that guides my daily vision and life. We need to tie daily actions to the critical success factors of our life. Simple but powerful. I hope it can help others.

    http://bit.ly/1Cx0Wy2