Forget Work-Life Balance. Let’s focus on a much more doable Work-Life Rhythm.

By Judi Sheppard Missett, Founder and CEO of Jazzercise, Inc., a member of WPO's Platinum II Chapter and proud sponsor of the 2023 WPO Entrepreneurial Excellence Forum

There’s an entire industry of experts devoted to helping CEOs achieve Work-Life Balance. Common suggestions include setting firm time boundaries between our work and personal lives (8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, 8 hours everything else!) Adhering to a strict 40-hour work week; or masterfully scheduling daily work-, family-, and self-care time each day. To me, the biggest problem with these cookie-cutter suggestions is the implied perfectionism, like it’s actually possible to achieve and maintain perfect balance between our work, family, health, friends, and spirit every day? We all know perfectionism is not only impossible, but it’s also crazy making. Which is why I believe the concept of Work-Life Rhythm is much more realistic and achievable.

Here are my top three reasons why and how:  

1) As human beings, we each have our own unique built-in circadian rhythm.

And we live in a world and on a planet where everything–from single-cell organisms to redwood trees; honeybees to polar bears; ocean tides to atmospheric weather–adheres to a “complex, internal, rhythm-generating oscillator system.” (The discovery of which earned two US scientists, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young, the 2017 Nobel prize in physiology.) The object of all these rhythms is not perfect balance, but a natural flow within a recurring cycle of events or phenomena. So, forget perfect balance. Let’s focus on the much more natural flow built into our bodies, minds, and spirits.

2) Acknowledging your body’s natural, built-in rhythm.   

The most obvious first question is not: Are you a morning or a nighttime person? Instead, ask yourself: Within a 24-hour period, what time is my body pre-set to experience peak energy, moderate energy, low energy, and sleep? Some people experience a single cycle of peak to moderate to low energy within an average day. Others may cycle up and down their personal energy scale two or more times a day. What is your body’s innate, natural rhythm? Further, does it vary predictably weekly, monthly, or with the weather or seasons? This is powerful self-knowledge. Pay attention and write down your findings.

3) Re-examine how your personal rhythm matches or clashes with your current work-life commitments.

Prior to the Pandemic, many businesses were structured around strict 9 to 5 (or whatever) work shift schedules. During the Pandemic, however, many of us learned that we could be just as productive, or more, working at home and adhering to a more organic work-day structure. Did you? What I learned was much better scheduling of important zoom work meetings or creative brain-storming sessions during my peak energy times; using moderate energy periods to process paperwork, emails, etc.; and converting my low energy times to small body-, mind- or spirit-renewing activities like exercising, walking my dogs, connecting with my daughter or granddaughters, meditating, or reading. I learned that a more flexible flow between each of these activities not only made me more productive, but I was also happier and less stressed. I also learned the value of scheduling, within each 7-day week, one “day of rest”—24 hours of unrestricted, uncommitted time to feed my soul, enjoy my home and husband, visit family or friends, or whatever feels natural and right at the time. Creating that time and space for some well-earned rest, spontaneity, and just “going with the flow” each week was life-changing for me. The whole “on the seventh day, He rested” concept may be Biblical, but it also reflects the natural rhythms of the world which surround us every day (whether we take the time to notice them or not.) Try it yourself, and please let me know if it works for you as well. 


About the Author

Judi Sheppard Missett is the founder and Executive Chair of Jazzercise, Inc., the world largest franchise dance fitness company. A renowned fitness expert and exercise pioneer, she has received numerous prestigious business awards, including the Presidential Commendation for Top Women Entrepreneurs, four Hall of Fame inductions, and the Sports Entrepreneur of the Year Award. For more hard-won insights and heart-felt advice on how to build your business and make the all-important Body-Mind-Spirit Connection, refer to Judi’s national best-selling book Building a Business with a Beat.

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