by Dave Pratt

I have an advantage over most of the people who come through the Ranching for Profit school. I have boundaries. The RMC office is about a mile and a half from my home. Every day, unless the weather is miserable, I walk to work. Then at the end of the day I walk home. When I’m at work, I’m at work. When I am home, I am home. I have boundaries.

When most ranchers are at work, they are also at home. When they are home, they are still at work. There are no boundaries.

You might wonder, what’s wrong with that? In her book, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Anna Quindlen writes, “You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are”. Anna isn’t suggesting picking up a hobby, but rather recognizing that we have several important roles in our lives. We are friends, parents, children, neighbors, community members …  if we want to live a full, happy life and excel in our work, we need to show up in these other roles.

A year or two after Kathy and I started running Ranch Management Consultants, we were burning the RMC candle at both ends. We took time one summer evening to entertain a visiting Australian colleague. After talking about our plans for RMC, our guest paused and asked me directly, “Dave, are you a human being?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Because you look like a human doing,” He explained. “If you weren’t doing, would you know how to be?”

I love what I do and I get great satisfaction from the impact we have, but I realized that I was working at an unsustainable pace. I was blurring the lines between my life and my work and both my work and my life were suffering for it.

The questions that follow can help you evaluate your work/life balance. This is not a scientific assessment, but it can point out some things that are easy to overlook. Consider working through this as a family. It might be interesting to see your work/life balance through other people’s eyes.

If you scored more than 70, congratulations! You probably have a healthy work/life balance.

If you scored 50 to 70, you’ve got room for improvement and may want to think about something you can do in one or two areas to improve your work/life balance.

If you scored less than 50, you might be a human doing rather than a human being. Your work and your life might improve if you re-evaluate your priorities.

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