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20 min

Warm up, catch up, and get going!

Step 1: Icebreaker

Group activity

1 min per member

An icebreaker is a powerful tool to help us become present with one another and ourselves. One by one, fill in the sentence below and share it with your Circle. Listen carefully as each member takes a turn and say thank you when she’s finished. Avoid the urge to slip into conversation.

  • One of the scenarios presented in the video that I relate to is . . .
  • To me, using economic concepts to think about work/life issues feels . . .

Step 2: Member Updates

Group activity

2 min (or less) per member

Once you’re warmed up, go around your Circle and share personal updates. As a general rule, personal updates should be brief and focus on big changes and important decisions in your life. (It’s OK not to have one every month!)

If you have a One Action update, share that with your Circle at the same time. (A One Action is one concrete action you committed to take at your last meeting; the goal of a One Action is to step outside your comfort zone or practice a new skill.)

For example, a member update might go like this: “Since our last meeting, I asked my boss for a big assignment and got it. I’m thrilled but a little nervous [personal update]. For my One Action, I asked that coworker I’ve been struggling with out for lunch. She immediately said yes, and I was surprised by how easily we got along. I can see it helping in the office, and we’re going out for lunch again next week—her invite! [One Action update].”

Activity 1: Key Takeaways

Individual activity

5 min

Before you jump into today’s meeting, review the key takeaways from the video, “The Economics of Well-Being,” individually or as a group.

These four economic concepts offer a unique way to think about the short- and long-term impacts of your decisions around work and family:

Utility maximization. Think of “utility” as happiness or well-being. We all try to make decisions that will maximize our own happiness, and this calculation becomes more complicated when we factor in a partner, children, and our family’s short- and long-term goals. To maximize utility in your work/life planning, consider whether a potential decision maximizes (a) your own well-being, (b) your family’s well-being, and/or (c) your chances of achieving one of the family’s short- or long-term goals. The best course of action achieves all three.

Investment in human capital. You invest in yourself by developing your skills (through education, training, and experience) and building your network. You want that investment to pay off—not depreciate. Working full-time, parttime, or as a volunteer keeps your skills sharp and helps you maintain your network, both of which can be immensely helpful in the long term.

Economics of child care. Child care is a family investment—not a cost covered by one parent. Although the cost of child care might seem high compared to your salary today, remember that staying in the workforce and advancing in your career now will likely earn your family substantially more in additional income over the long haul.

Efficiency. Efficiency means getting more output with the same resources—and you can do this both at work and at home. Many people’s efficiency at work goes up when they become parents. They learn to delegate more, prioritize better, and focus energy on the things that really matter at the office.

Activity 2: Apply the Economics of Well-Being

25 min

Step 1: Think about your current work/life challenges

Individual activity

5 min

Imagine a leader who is truly distinctive in your mind—someone who has had a profound impact on you. This could be a leader from any walk of life, real or imagined

Write. List work/life challenges you’re facing today or will face in the near future (e.g., deciding whether or not to take on a new role or assignment, asking for a raise or more flexible schedule, or taking time off). List as many as you can in the time allotted.

Step 2: Apply the economic framework

Individual activity

20 min

Select one of the scenarios above and write it down below along with your current plan of action.

  • The work/life scenario I want to address is: __________________________
  • To address this scenario, I plan to: __________________________

Next, answer the questions below to apply the four economic concepts presented in the video to this scenario.

Write. Utility maximization. How will your plan of action maximize your well-being?

Write. How will it maximize the well-being of your family (if applicable)?

Write. Will it help you or your family achieve a short- or long-term goal?

Write. Investment in human capital. Will your plan help you invest in your own human capital? How?

Write. Will it increase or decrease the value of your human capital?

Write. Economics of child care. If your work/life scenario is related to the cost of child care: How does your current or anticipated cost of child care compare to your current salary?

Write. How does that cost compare to your combined family income (if applicable)?

Write. If your salary increases by 3 percent every year, how much will you add to your family income by the time your child or children are in school? How does that additional income impact your cost of child care calculation?

Write. Efficiency. Does your plan maximize efficiency (getting more output with the same resources)?

Write. Conclusion. Now that you’ve thought through the decision using these economic concepts, would you like to change your plan of action? If so, write down your new or adjusted plan.

Activity 3: Reflect on Your Decision Making

20 min

Step 1: Identify the characteristics of your favorite leader

Pair activity

10 min per partner, 20 min total

Break into groups of two or three and answer the following questions:

  • Briefly describe the situation you used for the activity.
  • What was your original plan of action?
  • Did your plan change after you ran it through the framework? How?

Step 2: Share your reflections

Group activity

2 min per member, 20 min total

Come back together as a large group and share your reflections with the Circle:

  • What resonated with you (or not) about this exercise?
  • Will you use these concepts to help make decisions in the future?

One Action

15 min

The little push you need to go for it.

Step 1: Identify the action you’re going to take

Individual activity

5 min

The video encourages all of us to start talking about strategies for navigating work/life issues. Consider sharing the framework in this guide with a partner, colleague, or mentor, or ask for their thoughts on how to make better decisions about balancing work and family.

  • Identify the person (or people) with whom you’d like to have a work/life strategy conversation.
  • Imagine where and when it will happen.
  • Create a quick plan. What information will you share with this person? What questions will you ask her/him?
  • What do you hope to achieve in the conversation?

Step 2: Share your One Action with your Circle

Group activity

1 min or less per member

One by one, go around your Circle and complete the following statements:

  • In the next month, I plan to have a conversation about strategies for navigating work/life challenges with . . .
  • One thing the group can do to support me in this commitment is...

During the conversation, I will bring up and/or ask questions about . . .


Group activity

10 min

What’s next, and a few final words.

Step 1: Finalize logistics of your next meeting

Group activity

10 min

Before you break, make sure you have the basics covered for your next meeting: day and time, location, food and drink. Decide what you’re going to do when you get together or who’s going to send out ideas. You may also want to talk through what worked—and what didn’t—in today’s meeting and brainstorm improvements going forward.

Step 2: Close on an energetic and inspirational note

Group activity

2 min

At its core, the message of “The Economics of Well-Being” is all about maximizing your own happiness. Take a moment to visualize your very best self—the person who has successfully maximized well-being. One by one, go around the Circle and share one adjective that describes that best self with the group.