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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 15, 2011
Over the past twenty-five years, there has been substantial increase in burnout due to overwork and increased stress. Workplace violence, absenteeism, and rising workers' compensation claims are used as evidence of an unhealthy work life balance. A Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP), a "think tank," has even been created to study and research the problem of work-life balance. In one study, they found "seventy percent of US respondents and eighty-one percent of global respondents say their jobs are affecting their health."

In "Off Balance," best selling author and national acclaimed speaker, Matthew Kelly, turns the subject upside down (not just off balance) and reframes the discussion with challenging questions about the role that work plays in our life and why we should discard the theme "work-life balance" in favor of "work-life effectiveness" which results in what we all seek, the experience of satisfaction.

The popular press has conditioned us to think about "work-life balance" in a self-defeating way as they have compartmentalized work and life, setting them against one another...equating "balance" to working less. These cannot be separated.

Work is a necessary part of life and, despite popular efforts to do so, it cannot be left to stand by itself. Reality has taught us that what happens at home will affect us at work (a new baby, deaths, divorce) and what happens at work will affect us at home (promotion, termination, plant closures). Rather, a better approach would be integrating the two... and achieving "work-life effectiveness."

Kelly found that "If you ask people why they want work-life balance, they talk about things that have little or nothing to do with balance. They talk about dynamic relationships, fulfilling careers, challenging projects that engage their talents, opportunities to grow as a whole person, and pursuing their personal and professional dreams. Work-life balance as a term has become a catch-all."

Kelly's observations have led to his recommendation that we focus on achieving personal and professional satisfaction, not balance. This requires understanding what personal and professional satisfaction means to each of us; defining our dreams; assessing and categorizing our values and principles; prioritization of what is truly important for us to "become the best-version-of-yourself"; assessing where we are today; developing a system that facilitates personal accountability: and periodic reviews. In "Off Balance," Kelly provides the how: tips, templates, and self-revealing questions for each.

Kelly points out the few people have the requisite self-knowledge to set things right to experience a satisfaction filled life...and even fewer, if any, companies know how to help. "Off-Balance" is Kelly's contribution to filling this vacuum. Individuals who work at this will learn to live lives filled with satisfaction and enlightened companies who foster this will have an edge in attracting and retaining the best talent.

"Off Balance" expertly reframes the discussion of work and life and will be a tonic for those trying to align the need for satisfaction with the realities of work and life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The work-life balance is an issue that has fascinated me for decades. Hence my interest in this book in which Matthew Kelly claims that, in fact, the work-life balance is a "myth" that people must "get beyond" to achieve their personal and professional satisfaction. As he observes in the Introduction, "While the work-life balance discussion was introduced with the very best if intentions - namely, to help people deal with mounting pressures surrounding both personal and professional life in the modern world - in many ways the idea never had a chance because the term itself was fatally flawed." Kelly believes that individual destiny and organizational destiny are "intertwined." Yes, you can consider work life from personal life separately but they cannot be separated. What to do? Kelley wrote this book in response to that question.

These are a few of several dozen key points that caught my eye:

"I have come to the conclusion that people don't really need or want balance." Rather, they need and want "a satisfying experience of life." (Page x)

"The crisis of the modern world is a crisis of ideas. Ideas shape our lives and the world. Thought determines action. It would not be too soon for us to learn that ideas have very real consequences." (19)

"If it is to be sustained, our satisfaction has to be something that transcends external circumstances. It cannot be something that we put in the hands of things that are completely beyond our control." (47)

"Continuous change is now an accepted part of life and business. The waves of change are constantly crashing on the shore of our lives, but it is a well-defined value structure that allows us to thrive in the midst of the change. It us the unchanging that allows us to make sense of the change." (79)

"There are five facets to the process [of increasing the level of personal and professional satisfaction that we experience in our lives]: (1) Assessment, (2) Priorities, (3) Core Habits, (4) Weekly Strategy Session, and (5) Quarterly Review. All of these are interconnected and play either a macro or micro role within the overall process. To neglect one is to tamper with the system, which always leads the system to break down." (107)

"The most important part of any system is accountability...I have noticed that most people can do something for a few days, or a few weeks, but over time they tend to slip back into old self-destructive ways. That's why we need doctors, managers, parents, leaders, role models, and mentors." (134)

The Personal and Professional Satisfaction System that Kelly explains and strongly recommends - indeed [begin italics] any [end italics] system - can only provide a framework (albeit one that is to some extent self-correcting) and its effectiveness depends almost entirely by the person who adopts it and then applies it. Viewed as a journey, the process of increasing one's level of personal and professional satisfaction is not automatic. Although the ultimate destination is certain, efforts to get there will encounter doubts, distractions, ambiguities, resistance (at least some of it self-generated), and temporary setbacks. The "balance" to which Kelly frequently refers evokes the image of a spinning gyroscope rather than an up-and-down see saw (or teeter totter) because its steady rotation is maintained amidst changes in location. A sturdy moral "compass" and a well-defined value structure ensure both proper balance and steady progress.

Years ago, Stephen Covey observed that people spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is [begin italics] important [end italics]. I agree and so does Matthew Kelley. "To lay your head on your pillow at night, knowing that who you are and what you do make sense...now, that is satisfaction." We are also well-advised to recall advice from Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book is a powerful indictment of a myth:that happiness comes from trying to balance the personal with the professional. Floyd demolishes this idea, correctly noting that work and personal are twisted together like a pretzel. He goes further though and frames the question differently:how can be have satisfaction, not how can we have balance. He argues that satisfaction (not to be confused with getting what you want) comes through committment to your priorities. This leads you to be the very best possible version of yourself. The book gives exercises in how to do so, and is nice and short.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is short book but it packs quite a powerful punch. I made many highlights in it and that is one of my indicators of a great book. The content in this book makes you think. It is insightful and in its own way very motivating. The book is really about what Kelly calls "Personal and Professional Satisfaction" or PPS. He makes the quite correct observation that work-life balance should not be about allocating a certain amount of time to each. That misses the point. It's about making decisions on what at any particular time has priority. He gives you tools to do just that.

I highly recommend this book to anyone. You don't have to slog through it because it is very concise, but it is full of practical wisdom. I loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 22, 2013
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction by Mathew Kelly

"Off Balance" is a very helpful and practical book on how to help the reader design and build a more satisfying life in both the personal and professional arenas. Best-selling author and consultant, Mathew Kelly, promises a more satisfying life through a personalized system that readers can apply to their lives. This useful 160-page book includes the following five chapters: 1. The Best Way to Live, 2. How Satisfied Are You?, 3. Can You Have It All?, 4. Batteries Included, and 5. Systems Drive Behaviors.

Positives:
1. A well-written, engaging book. Straight and to the point, it's a breeze to read.
2. A practical guide on how to lead a more satisfying life both on a personal and professional level.
3. Kelly provides a useful framework, a system that leads to personal and professional satisfaction. "But most of the time, living a life that is deeply satisfying requires a strategy, daily attention, self-awareness, and discipline."
4. Kudos to the author for not pontificating, a personal concern going into this book. This book is truly intended for all the masses even for those of us with a personal relationship with reality.
5. The author does a real good job of taking the reader by the hand. He provides a very clear step-by-step approach on how to use his system.
6. Thought-provoking questions that will lead you to the need for change. "If you could change three things about your life, what would they be?" So, how is the best way to live? Find out.
7. Helps clarify concepts. Differentiating pleasure from satisfaction.
8. The three philosophies of our age. "Individualism, hedonism, and minimalism will destroy every individual and community that practices them."
9. The three principles common to all men and women of goodwill. "In these three principles--you are here to become the-best-version-of-yourself, virtue is the ultimate organizing principle, and self-control is central to the best way to live--we find the common elements that bind us all together in our quest to answer the question `How is the best way to live?'"
10. Helps you the reader, determine how satisfied you are.
11. The importance of measurement. "If you cannot measure something, you cannot change it. Measuring something is critical to the process of change and improvement." Twenty questions designed to measure satisfaction levels.
12. Key components of success. "Success always has required and always will require sacrifice. If success were easy, it would be common."
13. How to make good choices. "The reason is that I have worked hard to figure out what really matters to me and have developed a value structure."
14. The need for unchanging values and principles to guide us. "Without a value structure our lives can get kidnapped by the urgent, and the most important things end up being mortgaged for the least important things."
15. The importance of energy. "Knowing how to balance various activities in our life to produce the maximum flow of energy is perhaps the most important skill any of us can learn and develop."
16. The four levels of energy.
17. The importance of having a plan. "Either way, you need a plan, and the best plans are built on a system that will ensure the sustainability of the plan."
18. Kelly does a good job of teaching the reader how to use his system in order to produce results. "There are five facets to the process: (1) Assessment, (2) Priorities, (3) Core Habits, (4) Weekly Strategy Session, and (5) Quarterly Review."
19. Kelly shares his personal core habits.
20. Provides web links, and info on how to contact his company.

Negatives:
1. I would have liked more examples in real-life businesses. A little business name-dropping never hurts. Examples of success.
2. I don't know if all the advice given is really as practical as the author makes it out to be. Some people really have some uphill obstacles to overcome including health issues or worse the denial of services.
3. No bibliography, links to notes or case studies.

In summary, this is a very useful book. The book does provide some helpful advice on how to identify those things that will help the user achieve satisfaction in both personal and professional levels. The guidance provided is reasonable and is fairly easy to incorporate in one's life. I would have liked to have seen real-life business cases and a little more science behind the system. If you are looking to achieve satisfaction in your life, I recommend this book.

Further recommendations: "The Dream Manager" from the same author, "The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results" by Gary Keller, "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath, "Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business" by Barbara Annis and John Gray, "Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't" by Jeffrey Pfeffer, "Outliers: The Story of Success" and "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" by Malcolm Gladwell, "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg, "Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success" by Rick Newman, and "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2012
This was a surprisingly helpful book which was great to read through, but it could be even more useful as an aid to a group workshop, perhaps for young professionals starting out, or a professional development session for colleagues.

Its premise is to help us to learn how to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. Instead of focusing on a balance between everything, it focuses on helping you find satisfaction at the deepest level through identifying and accomplishing what is most important to you.

It identifies key areas to focus on, then takes you through practical steps to work through:
- the importance of planning, and how to work through a 'strategy' session
- then how to strategise each day to allow you to accomplish the important things as well as the every-day.
- how to develop core habits, with a great list of suggested habits
- how to prioritise between priorities (a step-by-step process that's easy to follow)
- how energy can effect what you can accomplish - which is common sense, but he actually shows how you can do something about it
Most helpful is that a solution is offered for every issue identified.

It's well explained and practical, but most importantly, what it suggests will help you become a better person, because he brings every issue around to what is most important in life, for example, one's relationship with spouse and kids, time and energy to do the things you are passionate about, how to help yourself to work well, and to have meaningful, rewarding relationships with your friends. Make time for it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
Matthew Kelly is a truth speaker. He offers simple, yet profound ways in which anyone can achieve personal satisfaction and more importantly, become the best version of themselves. At the end of the day, getting OFF Balance simply means getting your life back, in a way that is gratifying, complete and positively energy giving and feeding to others. Read this book and spread the wealth of knowledge that it contains so that others may be fulfilled as well!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2014
A lot of people seem to really like this book. But it reads like one long infomercial or motivational speech. He makes many outrageous claims, none of which are footnoted. For example, the fall of all civilizations is individualism. (Really, not say war, or disease of famine?) Or, 75% of the time, we eat even though we are not hungry. (Gee, I only eat when I hungry, I must be the odd one.)

Finally, he talks about how even if you are working 85 hours a week, if you are satisfied in with your job, then it won't be bad at all. I suppose I should just expect my spouse to take care everything while I'm gone working all of the time? Who will cook, clean, and get the million other things that need to be done while I put in these 15-hour days.

Also, if you are unhappy with your work-life balance it is your fault. It is not the fact that we have lousy maternity leave laws, FMLA laws, etc.

Even though it is a very short book and I do agree with some of what he says, I couldn't get through it. In a book I expect some real sources of facts (such as studies or science or something). This is just one guy going on and on about his own (unsupported) opinions. It kind of reminds me of listening to a relative go on and on with no real point.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2011
Matthew Kelly has nailed it right on the head with his newest book; Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction.

He clearly articulates what we have all discovered on one level or another...that the quest for work-life balance in corporate America over the past twenty years or so has NOT led to increased levels of happiness. And that in the end, what we are all seeking is to have SATISFYING lives personally and professionally) NOT just balanced lives.

Advancing the idea that in order to achieve satisfaction, one must take a STRATEGIC approach to their life, Mr. Kelly brilliantly correlates the assessment, planning and measurement systems that he has seen in the best companies in the world to the kind of approach we should consider when it comes to our own lives.

Early in the book, Mr. Kelly clearly states the promise of the book: "...that you can be the architect of a life that is both personally and professionally satisfying." His simple, straightfowrard approach, along with some very useful exercises for thinking strategically about our lives makes this book a great read, and a must-have life planning tool.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
We can and should be off balance at times based on what is going on in our lives, and it's ok as long as priorities and communication are clear. If you have small kids at home you have to give them first priority and your work may suffer. You may sacrifice by working and going to school for awhile to make a better future for your family. You may have major projects at work that require more time and travel. The key is keeping you priorities straight and rebalancing as you go and not be permanently off-balance, either with work or family.

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