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Balancing Act

Workaholics find time for fun, too.

In today’s frenetically paced world, life can be difficult if you don’t find a good balance between work and leisure. “We talk a lot about work–life balance, but there’s no magic formula,” says Andrea VanSteenhouse, a Denver author and psychologist who addresses lifestyle issues. “Balance can mean different things to different people.” Although some people love their work and find it so fulfilling that they never want to retire, others find work stressful and need to pursue relaxation whenever they can, she adds.

A 2019 poll conducted by a public relations firm evaluated which American cities offer the best life–work balance. Colorado Springs came in ninth overall. So how do folks in high-powered jobs maintain the proper balance? We asked three local movers and shakers for their secrets.

Ian Tullberg

Dr. Ian Tullberg is the medical director overseeing all 17 UCHealth Urgent Care facilities in Colorado. His typical work week is 50–60 hours. But he also has a very full life outside of the job. “I could work more hours if I wanted to,” he says, “but I’m trying to achieve a balance—and honestly, I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I have a wife, two little girls, two stepsons, and five pets.”

He dabbles in painting, has discovered the joys of woodworking, and pursues his lifelong passion: pole vaulting. He has been involved in the sport since high school and was training for the 2000 Sydney Olympics when he was badly injured. He rediscovered it a few years ago while coaching at his daughters’ school. Yes, he’s broken a few bones, but he’s now a world-class pole vaulter who gets up to exercise at 5 a.m. daily and competes nearly every Saturday. He’s ranked number three in the world for his age group (40–44).

“It sounds like a cliché,” he says, “but I have fun just hanging out with the family. We have a game room at home and watch movies together. My wife and I have a game night with other couples and play board games. And I love hiking with the dogs. It’s hard to be stressed with a dog licking your hand.”

Meanwhile, his life is so hectic that he often eats his lunch in the car, on the run. That’s OK, he says. “I’m more of a go-with-the-flow guy. I can certainly get anxious and hot-headed like most people, but I like to have fun, joking around with my staff and keeping things lighthearted.”

John Suthers

Since being elected mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015, John Suthers figures his average work week has been 70 to 80 hours. “When I say that, some people say, well, you go to all those parties and such. But I wouldn’t go if I wasn’t working or expected to speak,” he says. Still, he finds time for himself, too. “Oftentimes, I have a breakfast meeting, but if not, I try to get to the gym by six so I can still get to the office by eight.”

Despite a full calendar, he manages to keep stress at bay. It helps to have a well-ordered life, he says. He credits his wife, Janet, with that. She ensures they spend time with nonpolitical friends.

He also likes to get away once in a while. “Sometimes, I do a little business travel, which involves some interesting things, like a trip to Japan (at our expense). Over and above that, we try to take at least one good vacation a year.”

Family time is important, too. “Nothing better for work–life balance than spending time with a three-year-old,” he says.

He also values alone time. “I walk a lot. On Saturday mornings, I do a lot of good thinking (outdoors). He also rides bikes and plays golf with Janet.

Another part of his routine is “reading for half an hour at night before I go to bed. Mostly biographies and autobiographies, mostly American history.”

Of course, a big part of his job, public speaking, could be a stressor for others, but it doesn’t bother him. “I’ve been at this a long time, so I’m pretty comfortable with all of it. When you’ve argued a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, giving a state-of-the-city speech doesn’t worry me that much.”

Linda Weise

Linda Weise is the founding CEO of the Colorado Springs Conservatory, established in 1994 to bring world-class performing arts education to the region. Both Weise and the conservatory have been recognized with numerous national awards. She’s also an avid supporter of other nonprofits. She recently launched a new business, Vortici, with “a mission and vision to forge and develop inspired work in arts, culture, and arts education.”

Currently, the conservatory is undergoing major changes, “so I feel like I have five full-time jobs. One of them is to remain creative, which takes the most time.”

Although she’s not sure how many hours she averages in a workweek, she does know that “I sleep an average four to six hours a night, and if I’m not sleeping, I’m working. I feel very fortunate that I love what I do, so I never feel like I’m working.”

She typically rises at 3:45 a.m. “I read first. Then, I make sure I hike every day. I swim four to five times a week—no matter what.”

She also prioritizes family time with her rancher husband and two daughters. “Sometimes I have to force myself to slow down, to pay attention to them. We’re a very tight family,” who cooks together and has dinner together whenever they can.

A classically trained vocalist, she also performs from time to time. “I have a very rich, full life,” she says. “And guess what? I get to work with kids and music. So how bad can it be? That’s not to say it’s not a lot of work, but it’s so satisfying.”

Final Thoughts

“There are people who don’t have much balance in their lives, and they’re OK with it,” VanSteenhouse says. “There’s a saying: At the end, you never regret not spending more time in the office. But that’s not really true for everyone. Balance doesn’t look the same to everybody. You’ll know it when you find it.”