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Boomer Grandpa: Is it possible to achieve work-life balance?

October 11, 2018

After normal working hours, I used to wear this little Motorola pager on my belt. If it went off and I wasn’t home, I had to go find a phone and call work. Finding a phone wasn’t always easy. That concept is hard to comprehend today.

Boomers watch with amusement and possibly concern when the younger generations constantly are using their phones that can do a whole lot of stuff. The devices seem super-glued to their hands.

I think back and try to imagine how it would have impacted my life if I would have had 24/7 contact with my workplace.

How do working professionals today manage having the workplace always in the palm of their hand? Is it possible to have a good work/life balance? I thought I would ask those questions to a couple of friends.

‘Much is given, much is expected’

Renee Kuehl grew up in Green Bay and yes, she is a very passionate Packers fan. Both her mom and dad were role models in her life. Her dad was a hard working company man and her mom worked at home.

Her dad talked of obligation and work ethic. One of Renee’s fondest memories from her youth was before the start of her high school softball games, she always would spot her dad standing behind home plate. He would be in his suit and tie eating a hot dog. It was an early lesson of work/life balance as he came to the field right from work. He never missed a game.

Her parents modeled a strong faith and a devotion to each other. She witnessed her family living out the phrase, “Much is given, much is expected.”

Her decision to attend the University of Minnesota brought Renee to Minnesota. She majored in journalism and mass communication.

In talking to Renee about balance, she told me she doesn’t feel as if her personal and work lives are separate. She has been able to blend her life in a manageable and positive fashion.

Renee is director of sales and marketing at BrokerBin in Rochester. She has worked there 10 years and is part of the management team.

Renee feels fortunate she has flexibility at her workplace. She may be on business calls on the weekend, but also is able to leave work during an afternoon to attend a school activity. Renee has a passion for her work, but her family is her priority.

For Renee and her husband, Mark, the key to balance is teamwork and constant organization and planning. During her lunch hour three days a week, a little yoga helps as well. Doing yoga at this time of the day does not take time away from her family.

Every day for Renee involves numerous reviews of her calendars and the “to do” list on her phone. Renee told me she is planning on using a paper calendar in 2019. The reason is so the kids won’t see her looking at her device all the time. She worries about this, as many parents do.

Take responsibility

Another friend I talked to was Dave Joyce. Dave grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D., and attended Augustana University. His dad was a newspaper man and his mom was a teacher. They always were there to support Dave and his two siblings.

Dave was hired by Mayo in 1983 in data processing. Thirty-five years later, Dave is an information technology section head. Dave is at a different stage in his life and career than Renee. Dave and his wife, Carole, raised three boys, who all are out of the home.

I asked Dave how he sets boundaries on work life. He told me individuals need to take responsibility for the balance and manage expectations. You must figure out your own priorities. Dave knows balance is important. Along the way, he passed up opportunities that involved more money but constant travel.

If you have big goals, priorities or even own your own business, there might be a price you have to pay. These can be difficult decisions. These choices impact your life and family.

Dave remembers years ago if he got called he had to drive into the office. Now, when Dave gets called, he can accomplish a task from home. Technology can be a benefit not only to get work done, but to manage your life and organize what’s ahead.

We also know the use of technology and phones can become an addiction for individuals, whether it’s for work or for personal use. It can constantly encroach on your life. The responsibility is yours to manage.

Both Dave and Renee told me you need to understand your goals. Renee said you must reflect, “How are you moving through life?” Finding balance in a way that works for you is the key. In a sense, it involves several things: your happiness in your work, your desire to make your family the focal point of your life and even your faith. Renee said it all flows from there.

Whatever age you are — young, older or in the middle — find that balance.

I can express to you as a retired guy, none of the most meaningful moments in my life were at a desk.

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