I've been wondering lately what would happen if the conversation about work-life balance shifted out of living rooms and conference rooms and into the communities in which we live. Think about the community you live in right now -- how does it support you in creating the type of balance you desire?
One of the core elements of balance is finding alignment to values. So then, do your values align with those of the community in which you live? Does your community value education, health, kindness, innovation? Does it value growth, connection, diversity, equality? Does your community value balance?
Do you actually know what your community values? Most people don't; I didn't before I wrote this article. Most cities have a list of core values or at the very least a mission statement listed on their website. Just like a person or a company, a community (even a country) will express its values based on where it focuses time and spends money. Through looking at where a city invests time and money, a clear connection can be seen to a city's actual values.
For example, this summer in Paris, nine of the city's largest parks will stay open all night. Residents, most of whom value social connection and city landmarks, can now appreciate the beauty of the city and each other 24 hours day. Paris is spending an estimated half a million dollars on this project, a direct alignment to the values of its residents.
For the residents of Carlsbad, California, most of which whom embrace a life of activity (on land and sea) the city has committed that 40 percent of the area will remain undeveloped as open space in addition to the 50 miles of hiking and biking trails and 7 miles of beach access already established. Going a step further, Carlsbad is intentionally working to retain and attract companies that support and share the city values of health and wellness. Making it no surprise that life sciences, action sports, clean technology and health and leisure are some of the area's top industries and employers.
This isn't about cities needing to create new programs, it's about people understanding (and choosing) a city for the programs they already offer, and then working together to maintain that which has been created. It's also about people creating more awareness not only about why they work where they work, but also around why they live where they live.
A Pew Research Center study finds that most Americans will move to a new community at least once in their life. Make that move count. If you value social connection, pick a community that supports social events and business networking. If you value the outdoors -- choose somewhere with open space and national parks. If you value knowledge and learning -- pick a city near universities and research centers.
At the very least, consider how the community you live in right now supports your desired outcomes for the life you want to live. (And don't be surprised to find me living in Carlsbad!)