Working late was not uncommon for Pamela, but recently something unexpected happened. Her friends showed up at her office and asked, “What time are you going to be done?” A tense discussion occurred that made it clear that her best friends wanted her to spend dinner with them. So she decided to go out with them and effectively eased the tension. Problem Solved. Or is it?

Pamela’s approach to the dilemma she experienced with her friends was problem solving thinking. She made her decision and acted on it. If this were a problem to solve she would be done. But it is not, and she was just beginning to experience the imbalance of the work life/ personal life dynamic. Over time Pamela noticed that her choice to work late was creating tension in her personal life, and some days impeding upon her ability to work effectively. It is a dilemma that continues to repeat and present itself over and over again as a decision point. This situation is a dynamic. Dynamics are two opposite points of view that are dependent on each other, such as work life and personal life.

‘Either/Or’ thinking, or the common process of problem-solving has a finite ending to the problem once it is solved. “Where should we eat lunch?” “Which candidate should we hire for the position?” You choose one and you are done. They are independent alternatives. This is different from Pamela’s repeated experience of having to decide whether she should focus on work or personal life. Because this repeats itself over time and is never complete it needs a different approach to manage it. Dynamics can and need to be managed. To do this we expand our thinking to include both ‘either/or' thinking and ‘and/both’ thinking to create beneficial situations. We can train our thinking to supplement problem solving with dynamic management.

Integrate your life with ‘and/also’ thinking:

Calendar your events on one shared calendar so you can see all of your life’s priorities and insure not only what is important gets attention, but what is most meaningful to you also. Get the best of what you love to do and get the best of being with the people most important to you.

Thinking ‘and/both’ is a process of joining, not elimination.  When deciding what time is allocated to be spent at work, for work travel, or special projects, there needs to be a joining awareness. This will account for personal time, family time, individual needs, recovery time from intense projects and associated responsibilities and its impact on everyone involved over the short and long term. 

Using this personal thinking strategy to manage work and personal life can bring the best that both have to offer.  We can meet business goals, be energized by having opportunities to learn, meet clients’ needs and earn money. ‘And also’, have our individual interests met allowing time for personal renewal, contributing to community, meeting family needs and having quality relationships outside of work.


Bena is President of Bena Long Associates where we focus on developing a High Performing Executive Team - lifting the leader and executive team with the practices to access multiple intelligences to get the job done while improving health and well being. You can contact her at: