There is a lot of talk these days about work-life balance. Now, more than ever, people are not satisfied with working long hours and sacrificing their home life for their work. At the same time, we want to find work that engages us and that we enjoy. So how do we find a balance?
Enjoy Your Work
As much as you can, enjoy your work. To varying degrees, this is where most people spend much of their week. If you can enjoy your work it will have a ripple effect to the rest of your life. I have found that when I really enjoy the work I do, my life feels much more balanced as I like this part of the day. This may mean a change of attitude or mindset if you are used to not liking your job. Sometimes making new friends at work or taking on a new project can help you feel differently about your work. You could meet with your manager and ask if there is a change of role or responsibility that could help you enjoy your job better. If you really are not enjoying your job and feel like you have done everything you can, it might be time to move on.
Spend less than you earn. However much you enjoy your work, it is nice to have some room to move. The better you are at managing your money, the more flexibility and options you will have which in turn will make you feel better in all areas of your life. For example, if you can only work part time to look after a child or want to leave your job to freelance, you will have more options if you have a safety net and are used to living within a budget. Spending all that you earn will leave you reliant on your job and at the whims of any external changes. Getting used to managing what you earn will empower you and help you to feel in charge of your life at work…and at home.
Learn To Say No
A big issue for many people with regards to keeping a good work-life balance is knowing how to say “no”. You don’t want to let people down (or appear unwilling), so you continue to do unpaid overtime or take on more than you can handle. Of course, sometimes there may be situations where you need to step in and help out — but if you are consistently finding that your work is creeping into other areas of your life, it’s time to learn to say no. This also applies to taking on work. People often feel overwhelmed with work or out of balance if they are taking on too much. Remember, you don’t have to say “yes” to everything.
If you are not used to saying no, start small and keep practicing. It gets easier each time you do it. If people are used to you saying yes to everything then it may take a little time to adjust to your new approach, but give it time. They eventually will and, as a result, get used to your new boundaries. Be clear and value your time and others will, too.
Create A Good Life Outside Work
Often the reason work creeps into other areas of our lives is because our life outside work is lacking. It can be easier to throw yourself into work if you feel like things are not going well at home or your social life feels empty. I don’t think this is always a bad thing; sometimes work can take our mind off things or be therapeutic for a while. However it is important to be honest with yourself and if you find that you are using work as a crutch for the rest of your life, it could be time to look at creating new habits. Joining a new class or exercising are two examples of ways to keep that balance and create positive experiences outside your work life. Start with one thing and build on these experiences.
Remember That No One is Indispensable
No one is truly indispensable. It can be nice to feel that you are needed or that you are the only person that can do something, but ultimately it’s not true. If you are finding that you are relying on that feedback to feel good about yourself, it’s time to take a step back and see the bigger picture. In my experience, when you feel this way it can be a sign that your approach to work is becoming unhealthy. Realize that you don’t have to do everything yourself and that it is okay to delegate work to other people. It can take a bit of adjustment and will involve letting go of some control, but taking a step back will result in a better experience for you and the people you work with.
This is the time of year when goals and resolutions start to go off track, and achieving great work-life balance is a familiar one. Hopefully by trying some of the above tips you’ll be able to stay balanced when going off kilter isn’t all that uncommon.
(Image courtesy of SashaW under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.)
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