November 5, 2012
Your Priorities

Truth be told, the idea of everything being in balance on a daily basis is a myth. - Dave Ramsey

Based on what I’ve learned from talking to people over the past decade, there is no clearer path to misery than attempting to live the lie that is work/life balance.

Achieving perfect work/life balance is impossible
— for starters, there simply are not enough hours in the day for us to
exercise, walk the dog, have meaningful interactions with our kids, read
a book, learn something new, eat good food, help others, meditate,
nurture our relationship with our spouse, be sexy, drink a good wine,
watch a great TV show — oh, and do our full-time work. You won’t ever be in perfect balance and you’re going to drive yourself, and the people around you, nuts if you’re always trying to get there.

Recently I was talking to a founder I met at the Business of Software conference this year about being out of  balance.

Business is going well for this guy, but he is frustrated
about one thing: his success is causing him to be so busy that he
doesn’t have time to do the very thing, his passion, which led him to
start his company in the first place (his company makes software for CrossFit gym owners & athletes).

I don’t think anyone can achieve perfect work/life balance, especially if you’re running a startup. Stop trying.
Think of it this way: if you even have the luxury of contemplating
work/life balance in the first place, you’re ahead of 90% of the world’s
population. Maybe 95%.

Is there a middle ground between the guy
who decides that “life is too short” and moves to Brazil to surf
full-time, and the guy who works 20-hours days? I think there is but it
starts with killing the work/life balance myth.

So how about this: instead of aiming for perfect balance, try prioritizing your days based on the top 3 things you care about.  My top 3 priorities are cliché, but true. They are:

  1. Family
  2. Me + Friends
  3. Work

these priorities to guide my daily decisions has really helped me feel
like I could better pay attention to all the areas in my life that need
to be nurtured without feeling guilty that I was letting someone down or
something slip.

Free yourself from the myth of work/life balance and focus on what matters most to you.

David Cancel is the Chief Product Officer at HubSpot in Cambridge, MA.  You can find this blog post, as well as additional content on his blog located here.  You can also follow David on Twitter (@dcancel) by clicking here.