Weekend Reading – Life and work balance

Weekend Reading – Life and work balance

Hey Friends!

Welcome to a new Weekend Reading post: a bit about life and work balance and not the other way around…

A few thoughts on that theme soon but first some reminders about some recent content:

The Bank of Canada just increased interest rates, again, so as long as borrowing costs are higher I believe it’s smart to earn some money on idle cash. I highlighted where I’m parking some cash now, in some low-risk, low-cost cash-alternative ETFs that yield more than 4%. Are these ETFs right for you?

Earlier this week, I shared our most recent dividend income update here. So far, so good as the income derived from part of our portfolio moves higher over time to help fund some desired life-work balance in semi-retirement. 

May 2023 Dividend Income Update

“The true investor . . . will do better if he forgets about the stock market and pays attention to his dividend returns and to the operating results of his companies.” – John C. Bogle, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns

Weekend Reading – Life and work balance

Weekend Reading - Expenses that may disappear edition

Source: Behavior Gap.

Based on a Havard Business Review (HBR) article I read on this subject there is an opportunity to change the narrative…flip the wording in my opinion…given any work-life balance is a cycle and not any achievement. 

After conducting almost 200 in-depth interviews with 78 professionals from the London offices of a global law firm and an accounting firm a few years ago, that study sought the answer to this:

how and why some professionals came to distance themselves from the professional role centred on long work hours. 

The majority of the law-firm interviewees described their jobs as highly demanding, exhausting, and chaotic, and they seemed to take for granted that working long hours was necessary for their professional success. However, about 30% of the men and 50% of women in the sample research also appeared to consciously resist working long hours, describing a variety of strategies they developed for maintaining a healthier work-life balance. While the details of every individual case differed, this study suggested a common mental process that consistently helped this group of professionals to change the way they worked — and lived — striving to be better.

The research also suggested that work-life balance seems to be a cycle that any professionals must continually engage in. That sounds tiring over time.


This treadmill cycle is made up of five distinct steps from the HBR article:

1. Denormalize. This step involves taking a step back and reflecting on what is currently causing work-life stress, unbalance, or dissatisfaction? Ask yourself: how are these circumstances affecting how I perform and engage with my job? What am I prioritizing? What am I sacrificing? What is getting lost?

2. Pay attention to your emotions. This step suggests once you’ve increased your awareness of your current situation, examine how that situation makes you feel. Ask yourself: do I feel energized, fulfilled, satisfied? Or do I feel angry, resentful, sad based on what’s going on?

3. Reprioritize. Once you take time to pause and reflect, including assessing your emotions, you can then begin the step of putting things into perspective and determining how your priorities need to be adjusted. Ask yourself: what am I willing to sacrifice, and for how long? Why do I feel that it is important to prioritize my life in this way? Is it really necessary? 

4. Consider the alternatives. Like most good decision-making frameworks, before leaping into the first thing that comes to mind, consider the pros and cons related to your imbalance and consider what could be different in order to better align with your priorities. Ask yourself: are there components of your job/work that you would like to see changed? How much time would you like to spend with your family, or on hobbies? 

5. Implement change. All the thinking or talking about change in the world does little good when behaviours don’t follow. You have to act. Once you’ve considered your key change from the alternatives, then make it happen. That can mean a “public” change — something that explicitly shifts your colleagues’ expectations, such as taking on a new role that’s designed to be less time-demanding or allows for a compressed-week model — or a “private” change, in which you informally change your work patterns, without necessarily attempting to change your colleagues’ expectations. In the HBR research, they’ve found both public and private changes can be effective strategies…

Why is this cycle important? Why is it on my site this week?

Well, both my wife and I have now made our decisions/intentions to work part-time with our current employer known to them. We’ve shared this information with our respective and supportive managers. Some co-workers know. Some friends know. And, probably most importantly, we’ve made a commitment to ourselves to see this through. We know we want to do this.

Unlike the London law firm, our workplace roles are not under the constant, weekly influence nor culture of excessive work. This does not mean from a lifestyle perspective, we’re not ready to embark on our own form of life-work balance instead of work-life balance in another year or so. It’s something we’ve been thinking about (and I’ve been writing more about…) more often in recent years. 

We hope to remain with our employer of course, in some capacity, and we’re starting to work through those internal processes and potential future opportunities now. It will be very interesting to see how things play out! 

…but I do find as part of this theme – there is so much talk about work-life balance and not the other way around. It’s an important distinction.

The cycle to denormalize any stressors, connect with how you really feel about things, assess, prioritize and put a plan of action in place not only seems rational but essential to put your yourself, your life, your wellbeing, ahead of other factors. 

On the subject of balance, I come back to Balance by Andrew Hallam – a good read to get your eyes on if you can. When I interviewed Andrew about his book along with his part-time work, hobby income and other related income streams in his own so called “retirement” he mentioned this:

“Having said this, I think most people should continue to work part-time at something they’re passionate about for as long as they can. This alleviates financial stress, ensuring that they don’t have to derive everything from their portfolios and/or pensions. Research suggests it also gives us a sense of purpose, keeping us healthier longer, keeping us happier and increasing our life expectancy. I reference such studies in my book, Balance.”

Long before Balance, including if you never read Andrew’s fine book, you and I both know that any balancing act that aligns with your own value system is likely going to be a very healthy and fulfilling way to live. Financial independence offers a bit more time to focus on the life part of the life-work balance – something absolutely worth striving for. 

More Weekend Reading…

On a similar theme this week, 1500 Days to Freedom wondered: what if you run out of life?

From the post:

“My goal is to optimize for right now, even if it means having a lot less money later on.

Consider this question:

Would you rather have really rich experiences when you’re 50 or be really rich when you’re 80?”

Morningstar shared a few steps to building a minimalist portfolio.

My friends at CreditCardGenius highlighted Tim Hortons will soon have a credit card!

On the subject of goals, Henry Mah gave some thanks to DIY investor Tom Connolly.

“I do indeed feel that I owe much of my success to the teachings and lessons learned over fifty years ago. I also owe a debt to Tom Connolly who got me started in the right direction, at the right time.”

You might recall Henry Mah is a passionate DIY investor who authored this book and more:

Your TFSA Compounder – Work Your TFSA Harder So You Can Retire Sooner

Dividend Growth Investor shared some reasons to invest for retirement, as early as possible.

…like GenY Money does. Boom!

May 2023 Dividend Income Update

On Cashflows & Portfolios, we highlighted how your passion project could help you retire much earlier while navigating any nasty financial surprises like higher interest rates, higher inflation and higher taxation. 

One of my case studies was for this reader – who was single and wondered if they have a chance to retire at age 55 on one income?

I’m single – is it possible to retire at age 55?

Enjoy this and many, many more free case studies are found on my standing Retirement page including a link to my low-cost services to run any retirement projections reports for you too! Contact me anytime to get started. 

Have a great weekend and stay well.


My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

4 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Life and work balance"

  1. Thank you Mark. Along with balance in life and work , it is important to always be kind and generous living a life of integrity treating people with respect and dignity. As well, for us, our faith is a guiding principle. Mike

    1. Very well said, Mike! You can lead a very happy life if you are always kind and generous to others! And money can be used as a good tool to help those people who are less fortunate. The more you give, the more you’ll receive (not only more money, but also more happiness)! And life has more meaning when we can help others!


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