work-life balance

“I’d like all of you to pause for a moment, you wretched weaklings, and take stock of your miserable existence.”

Nigel Marsh quotes Saint Benedict, from the fifth century, in the introduction to his discussion of work-life balance. Every day we work and grind, unhappy in our jobs and our lives. So Nigel Marsh, like us at Forge, has dedicated himself to understanding the meaning of “work-life balance.”

How does our work and our lives contribute to our societal “miserable existence”—and how do we fix it?

About Nigel Marsh

Nigel Marsh, author of “Fat, Forty, and Fired,” has spent the past seven years studying and writing about work-life balance. When he turned 40, he realized he was a “classic corporate warrior.” He was eating and drinking too much, working too hard, and neglecting his family. So he took a year off to “address the thorny issue of work-life balance.”

In his studies, he came to four key observations. What can we learn from his thoughts on work-life balance? How can we apply these reflections to our own daily lives? How can we build our own work-life balance in an appropriate and fulfilled way?

Below you’ll find his Ted Talk about work-life balance and the Forge work-life balance discussion of his observations.


Observation 1: Some careers are inherently against work-life balance.

In his first observation, Marsh discusses all the “rubbish” surrounding work-life balance. Dress-down Fridays and unlimited vacation only mask the core issue. He believes that the core issue is that some career paths and jobs are fundamentally incompatible with a work-life balance. The reality is that there are thousands of people “leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation” that casual Fridays won’t fix.

If this truly is the core issue, how do we solve it? At Forge, that’s what we work to address. Many of these inherently unbalanced jobs are found with hourly workers. Servers need to be present at the restaurant in order to serve their customers. Department stores need workers present on Christmas Eve and Black Friday. Hospitals need nurses and doctors on-call 24/7. Customer-facing businesses require employees at all operating hours, regardless of their employees’ work-life balance needs.

That’s where Forge has entered the sphere. We give employees the ability to schedule their own hours, even in these customer-centric businesses. But businesses don’t need to get the short-end of the straw here. Forge helps build a strong, wide talent pool that manages can pull from to fill shifts. The larger the talent pool, the more opportunities for employees to pick up and fill shifts.

Forge ensures workers are always present while still offering this flexible and autonomous scheduling to employees. Nigel Marsh is right—there are some jobs that have been inherently inflexible. But not anymore.

Observation 2: Employees have to take charge of their own flexibility.

Marsh makes the strong point that governments and corporations won’t solve this issue for us. Employees must take responsibility for the types of lives they want to lead. Work-life balance means designing your own life… or someone else will design it for you. Marsh states, “We have to be responsible for setting and maintaining the boundaries in our life.”

Again, this is where Forge has stepped in. Employees must take control over their own schedules in order to control their own life balance.

manage a businessBut Forge isn’t just for employees—it’s designed to help employers retain this control as well. Companies are designed to get as much out of you as they can. But the companies that will succeed moving forward are those that understand they get the most out of their workers when the employee has a strong work-life balance. This is a time of the unparalleled growth of flexible work, and employers that embrace this autonomous self-scheduling are already ahead of the pack.

Observation 3: We have to be aware of the time frame of our balance.

work-life-balanceThere are often two extremes by which we determine work-life balance: one day or our entire lives. We often think either that we need to spend equal hours at home and at work in one day or that we will work until we retire, at which point we will live a full and hearty life.

Marsh observes that our timeframes of “work-life balance” are unrealistic. A day is too short and “after I retire” is too long. We need an appropriate time frame upon which we judge our balance.

Maybe one day you spend the majority of time with your family, while another you spend a full day at work. Does that mean you don’t have a work-life balance?

Work-life balance doesn’t mean not working. You still need to make money and spend time with your family. Consider your overall work-life balance. What is the balance you aspire to? What personal obligations do you want to attend to while still hosting a full career? What are your daily and weekly intentions that build your ideal work-life balance?

Observation 4: A balanced life is more than just hours at work and home.

work life balance“Work-life balance” is not just a balance of hours at work and hours at home. It is an integration of all areas of your life.

“We need to approach balance in a balanced way,” states Marsh. There are other parts of work-life balance to take into account, like the intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual facets of our being. Marsh notes that balancing all areas can be daunting—but it’s possible.

Having a balanced life doesn’t need to mean dramatic upheaval. “With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life.”

What matters most to you? What does your ideal life look like? What will make you a better parent and worker? What is your purpose and passion? What will you look back on in your life and be most proud of?

This is where you should be dedicating more time. This is where you should look to find your balance.

The Bottom Line

Nigel Marsh’s four observations reflect what Forge has set out to do: provide autonomy and control to the workers who want to find their ultimate balanced life. We place the control in the hands of our Team Members. It’s your turn— sign up to be a Team Member for free right now!

As Marsh points out, “If enough people do it, we can change society’s definition of success away from the moronically simplistic notion that the person with the most money when he dies wins.”

At Forge, our definition of success is a fulfilled, thoughtful life. Success is waking up each day with a love for all facets of work, family, and life.

What is your definition of success? Share this article on social media with your own definition to be featured in our upcoming “The Definition Of Success” article! Don’t forget to tag Forge @joinforge.


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