Extreme Jobs and Work Life Balance

Harvard business review ran a report titled Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workeweek.  The study talks about the ‘extreme’ worker and five categories of pressure relating to job performance.  On the other end of the spectrum entrepreneurs and business owners find themselves in their own ‘extreme’ life. Both extremes must find a way to balance their work and life.

Last December the Center for Work-Life Policy released a report that ran in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review titled: “Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek.” The study characterized workers as “extreme” if they involved long hours (thus the 70 hour workweek mentioned in the title) and 5 categories of pressure relating to job performance.

Main factors attributed to extreme jobs are globalization, Blackberries, and Type A personalities. The study lists two huge personal costs of these jobs: Almost 60% of these workers beleieve their career undermines their relationship with their children. Additionally, 50% say their work interferes with their sex lives.Here’s the lead quote from the Center for Work-Life Policy’s summary of the report: “Work for many has become the ultimate extreme sport – high level, high impact workers pushing themselves beyond their limits; working themselves around the clock and around the globe.” If you’re self-employed, this may sound familiar to you.

The most striking finding of the report for me is that “1.7 million Americans hold extreme jobs. ” What that tells me is that entrepreneurs, small business owners, and self-employed professionals are not represented in the study.

If business owners and freelance professionals like us were included in this study, I’m convinced the number would be substantially, if not startlingly, higher. As we know, what appears to be a life out of balance to an outsider may actually feel, to an entrepreneur, like a natural, healthy, and productive way to function. Being self-employed requires vision, creativity, sacrifice, commitment, focus, and drive. This may make it especially challenging to maintain boundaries and strike a balance between business, family, and one’s personal life.

Entrepreneurs and business owners find themselves in a unique place – in their own “extreme Life” if you will – where they must find the strength to honor their own convictions and subscribe to one’s own personal code of conduct while relying upon those very principles and gifts – foresight, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and dedication – not only to one’s business, but also to one’s chosen life and lifestyle.

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