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Harmonizing Work, Family and Personal Life

  Jun 2, 2011

In the last few decades, there has been an increasing number of executives who although they have achieved great professional success, they have at the same time experienced huge family and personal failure. They seem to have valued their professional triumphs so highly that they have neglected their family and personal life. Their health has also been greatly affected by this lopsided approach to life.

What is even more worrying is that many young people seem now in line to form the list of people with this sort of imbalance. They are faithfully following in the footsteps of their elders. Is there anything that can be done to stop this trend?

A great deal can be done to reverse this trend both at the company level and on a personal level. This article focuses on what we can do as individuals since that requires a shorter turn-around time.

Here are five simple steps that can help to create better harmony between our work, family and personal life.

Step One: Establish Your Position

One cannot plan a route that will take them somewhere without knowing the starting point of their journey. Both the starting and finishing are essential because without these two points, what you create is a circle! Ask yourself, where am I? What am I doing right already? What must I stop doing? What could I start doing? There are three areas of balance which could help you assess your position; time, involvement and satisfaction. How much time do you dedicate to each aspect of your life? How involved are you in each of these areas in terms of engaging your skills, talent, energy and other resources? What level of satisfaction do you derive from your achievements in these different areas? Are there some that you give more value while you consider others as trivial?

Analyze your strength and note your weaknesses. This may take time and thought, but it is a worthwhile exercise. By doing this, you will be well equipped to develop new habits that will lead to the desired harmony.

Step Two: Determine Your Destination

This is the second key point you must know when planning the best route to take you from where you are, to where you want to be. How do we establish this destination?

Write out a mission statement for yourself and one for your family. This has been suggested by many authors and it makes sense. After all, a human life is the greatest establishment possible. That life is unique and unrepeatable. It has a defined purpose in creation, which cannot be duplicated. Does this not sound big enough to warrant a mission statement?

This statement should be guided by your values. Your chosen values will guide you in the compilation of your mission statement and in the pursuit of all the goals you set for your life. Some authors also suggest that it helps to imagine yourself in the ideal situation that you desire to achieve. I say … there’s no harm in trying.

Step Three: Prepare A Plan

Once you have the beginning and the end of your journey defined, mapping the route becomes easy. It means getting down to writing a set of goals. These must have those characteristics we know so well that are specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time bound. The goal must be meaningful; based on the values you have already defined and suited to you as an individual. In setting your goals, it is important to know what you want and when you want it. Make a list of rewards and consequences for achieving each target. Identify potential obstacles and the skills you need to overcome them. List the exact actions you need and the people who could help you achieve your plans.

Step Four: Take Massive Action

A fortune is an idea acted upon. The key word is action. Program yourself for action. Taking action does not mean setting off at a pace that burns you out all too soon. Break the journey into small steps starting with your annual goal into monthly, weekly and daily goals. No matter how big the goal, it can be broken down into small enough steps that can easily be taken. By breaking the goals, you sharpen your focus.

It is then important that you incorporate the daily steps into your time management system. If you use a planner, write your targets there. If you record events on your phone, include these plans there too. Then with discipline and commitment, get on with the action.

Step Five: Journalize

The final stage is to record your experiences for yourself and future generations. If life is worth living, it is worth recording. Short sentences are good enough.

• Today I left the office at 5.15pm as planned. • Today I was irritable and did not read the bedtime story for the kids. • Wow! I actually played an exciting board game with my family as planned for Sunday afternoons. • I extended my lunch break chatting with my colleagues and did not complete the report.


Many action plans are made from records of past mistakes. We can use our successes to build our enthusiasm to achieve our goals.

Harmonizing work and family requires focus, commitment and constant effort but it’s worthwhile. We can look back in later years and say we did our best to develop our potential we did our best to bring up a happy family and we enjoyed life as a whole.


In collaboration with the International Center of Work and Family at IESE Business School, University of Navarra in Spain, and The Institute for Work and Family Integration, Lagos Business School in Nigeria, the Center for Research on Work and Family at Strathmore Business School will “help organizations in Kenya and other countries in Africa to improve employee retention, commitment and engagement and thus enhance organizational productivity”. Its mission is “to improve human resources practices that allow employees to reconcile work-family issues and promote the employer-employee relationship as a new perspective to corporate social responsibility”. Our strategy is to assist companies by conducting sound academic research and publishing in the areas of work family conciliation and human resources practices. We will communicate and promote best practices to motivate companies to become socially responsible and family friendly.

For more information, click here.

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