Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

See How David’s New Priorities Bring Him Work-Life Balance

Chapter 7: Secure Your Identity Part 5

In the last post, I wrote about a Midwestern VP I called “David” whose company-first value system led to 100 hour weeks and a stroke before he was fifty.  And while David recovered fully from the stroke, he was laid off less than a year later.  “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” he told me in a quiet voice.  I knew exactly what he meant, because at one time the value I gave myself came from my job.  And I also knew that if I hadn’t changed my life a few years earlier, it could have been me with the stroke.

One thing David did have was a strong family – a good marriage, and three kids, a daughter in college and two boys in high school.  To make a long story short, David used this experience to change his life, which is markedly different in the next job.  David reconnected with people first values.  In order of importance his priorities became:

  1. Personal Health
  2. Family
  3. Work

It’s not that work is unimportant to David, it is just not as important as his health or family.  And this translated directly into a different set of priorities and decisions. For example, David:

  • Took a spontaneous trip to see his daughter in college
  • Stops working at five because he wants to have time to cook dinner with the family.  Previously, he was on calls and email till eight, and would get off the phone starving and crabby, running out to Taco Bell for dinner.  Yes, power male VP loves to cook.
  • When traveling to the corporate headquarters, he goes to the gym instead of going early to the office.

None of these changes is earthshaking in and of themselves, but they all stem from a shift in his personal identity, and they are now the rule instead of the exception.

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  1. Greg Marcus says

    This post is part of the blog book Busting Your Corporate Idol: How To Reconnect With Values & Regain Control Of Your Life. You can learn more about the book here:

  2. Greg Marcus says

    Regular readers may have noticed that the posts this week are coming out later than the normal 4:30 AM EST time. It is tech week for my older daughter’s play, and I am working in the greenroom till 10 at night. I try to finish them the night before, but this week I am finishing the posts the morning of. In theory I would be ahead a few posts, but my buffer has run out. Thanks for your patience.

  3. Carol Latronica says

    I just wanted to thank you for these posts, they have been a much appreciated & a wonderful validation on the order of what is important. I look forward to reading your future writings.

    Best of luck Greg!


  1. […] idolatry, where the company was the top priority to the detriment of his health and family.  After the stroke, David changed his values, and refocused his personal identity.  He was in the habit of deriving […]

  2. […] you asked David before his stroke if it was healthy for someone to work 100 hours a week, I think he would have said “of course […]

  3. […] overnight, it isn’t going to happen unless there is a crisis.  The David model from the last few posts is a perfect example of this.  But if you’d like to change before you have a stroke or run […]

  4. […] recognize his corporate idolatry, and switch to a people-first identity?  (You can read about him here.)  Family and community was an essential part of his change. David’s wife was thrilled that he […]