Work/Life Balance Issues October 9, 2014

Work Life Balance Issues? Why It's Already Later Than You Think!


Irrespective of your age now, how many people, especially business leaders, come to the end of their life and state, “I had far more time than I needed”? 

You can be 25 or 65, it’s irrelevant, as I bet when you carry out my test on the 'ME Time' chart below and match it to the things you want to do in life, you will say "it really is later than you think."

A great friend of mine recently passed and it reminded me that, even in this fast paced entrepreneurial business world, we should all take time to smell the roses.

Jim and I played a lot of sport together when we were younger. Meeting him a month ago I reflected in our meeting that he had grown into a good, if generally absent, father, a supportive husband and a caring boss. He had built the business from scratch. It was successful and at 58, he was starting to think about how he will move into his sixties. We chatted about the options:

What about travel, the Italian lakes maybe?
What about a seaside retreat?
What about that bucket list he’d been developing?

As usual we enjoyed the banter but made no decision and as we parted he sighed, ”I’ll get round to it one day…I’ve still got plenty of time”.

A few weeks ago at 7 pm on a Thursday, following his company’s board meeting, where the decision was to prepare the company for disposal, Jim left the office to hurry home to his wife Alice and to catch his granddaughter Emma, before she was asleep. However, he never made it back from the office. Jim died in his car that evening, following a heart attack on the way home.

I admit that this is not the most inspirational message, not the happiest message and certainly not the most positive message. But, it is probably one of the most important messages. 

It’s always later than you think!

Is it all bad news? No, of course not. I’m a Vistage Chair and my job is to improve the effectiveness and enhance the lives of MDs, business leaders and executives. I also believe in the airplane analogy, "put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others”. You’re no good to anyone if you can’t breathe.

The Good News is You Can Change

If you commit to three simple things, three simple actions, all of which are easy to do, you can improve your work life balance and extend your ME time. If you can change now it won’t be anywhere near as late as it might be otherwise.

Discover How Much 'ME Time' You Have left

Let’s look at how much 'ME Time' you have left. This is calculated on the following assumptions:

  1. The average lifespan in the UK is 80 years
  2. The average active lifespan in the UK is 75 years
  3. The UK retirement age is 67 years
  4. You work around 50 hours a week (45% of the time available after sleep)
  • Taking away your age now from retirement age and then taking 55% of this gives us a number of active ME years before retirement
  • Taking one third away for sleep time gives us our waking ME years to retirement
  • Taking the eight years between retirement and the end of active life and removing the sleep time

    Complicated? Yes. Look at the graph below:


The X-axis is my age now and the Y-axis is ME years left. So at 53 you would have 10 active ME years left.

So, How Do We Extend it?

Simple, there are three things you need to improve:

  1. Physical health
  2. Mental health
  3. Nutrition

There’s not one person reading this who cannot achieve all three of these by follwoing some simple steps: 

  1. Try to get 20-30 minutes exercise a day
    Walking is good – do it midday with a colleague and chat along the way

  2. Lead and don’t manage 
    Lead and don’t manage, let others manage and reduce your work hours by 10%

  3. Eat better
    Simply say, before eating something, “is this going to be good for me?”
    Doing this is estimated by the medics to add a minimum of 5 years onto your active life

Now look at the graph above and see your active ME years on the top line (action). The 53 year old now has an additional 35% ME time.

You can extend your ME time by 35% at any age by simply moving more, eating better and reducing your stress. It’s your choice.


  • How much better would you perform and what would that do for the business?
  • How much more of your bucket list would you do?
  • How would you feel about it?
  • What would your family and friends think about that? Would they say, “you should spend more time working, grabbing fast food as you rush about and you’re not worried enough about the business”?

I think this was summed up best by the successful golfer Walter Hagen, when he said to the young golfers looking to emulate him, ”Be sure to smell the flowers along the way”.

Alice is set up for life and so is Emma. Jim’s other shareholders are going to buy out Jim’s stake in the business. Alice and Emma are now asset rich. Alice and Emma would spend it all to get Jim back, if only for one day to tell him how much they love him.

Remember, it really is always later than you think.

Move more, stress less and eat better. You know it makes sense.

It’s your choice. For those who love you make sure it’s a good one.

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