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6 Guiding Principles for Work and Life

Proactively living our values and priorities can help us find work-life balance.

Key points

  • Making choices based on values and priorities can help us navigate work and life with less effort.
  • Quality, integrity, fulfillment, well-being, connection, and growth are six common principles to achieving a better work-life balance.
  • Achieving better work-life balance requires some experimentation and trial-and-error.

With fewer clear boundaries between work and life, it is much harder than it once was to support two separate identities: your “work self” and your “life self.” Many people struggle to find balance, becoming workaholics or lifeaholics, at least as long as they can stand it. Neither alternative is sustainable in the long term.

Achieving balance must come from within.
Source: Pexels/Pixabay

Remember, your work and life have one common denominator: You. Once you are anchored to your balanced center, navigating work and life seems like less of a choice and more like a natural give-and-take.

Arriving at that balanced center is a matter of moving steadily in that direction one step at a time, guided by clear values and priorities.

I have seen solid and real-world leaders embrace these six values in their work and lives.

Quality and Standards

You are what you write, say, create, and do. No matter how grand your intentions or how generous and kind you may be as a person, others will know you by your actions. So, hold yourself to a high standard. Think before you speak. Plan before you act. But don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by the myth of perfection, either. Hold yourself to a high standard, and just go for it.

Integrity and Proactive Behavior

No matter what, don’t get involved in unethical dealings. It’s not worth any price. Be honest and honest people will gravitate toward you. But, let’s face it, that’s the easy part. Real integrity requires more proactive behavior than sitting on a high horse in judgment of others: Delivering when people are counting on you, helping others when nobody is there to give you credit, and intervening when others are being treated unfairly.

Fulfilling Aspirations

You have every right to expect that living your life will fulfill your deepest aspirations and fondest hopes. The trick is that, at the end of the day, you are the one who has to put in the effort to make those dreams a reality. Reaching for the stars does not necessarily mean making millions, winning the Nobel Prize, being a movie star, or being President of the United States. What it does mean is chasing your dreams, whatever they may be, with all your heart and soul, and keeping up the chase until you catch them.


The benefits will accrue over time. When any part of us is neglected—body, mind, or spirit—we are less effective, less happy, and we have less control over our lives. Take the time to prioritize that self-care every day, even if it is only five minutes out of your day.

Connection With Others

Human beings have a compelling need for each other—to be needed, nurtured, understood, and loved. That’s why it’s so important to spend time connecting with people who matter. This doesn't mean you must become personal friends with your coworkers. at work (In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t.) What it does mean is keeping your commitments. Don’t give your personal guarantee lightly. People will remember the times you let them down.


We only grow when we push outside our comfort zones and experience something new. But it’s important to remember, we also need time on the other side to integrate and recover. Then, we will be prepared to push ourselves again. Whenever we try to exceed our current level of ability or experience, i.e. move into the unknown in any sphere

We increase the risk of making mistakes, and indeed, making mistakes is often inevitable. Embrace imperfection as a natural and necessary part of the process. Atrophy is the only alternative to growth.

Of course, these six values are only some of the possibilities. Finding that elusive balance is a matter of defining for yourself what to value and prioritize day-to-day. Experiment and adjust. You’ll know when you find the right mix of guiding principles that speak to you.

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