Work-Life Balance does not mean perfect balance between your work and your life. Work can include career and ambition, while Life includes health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development. Can there be a balance? And once set, will it remain so?
Work life balance does not mean balance across all aspects of an individual’s life. The balance will vary over time. It is a constant dance, and it takes work. There is no one formula that fits all. Only you can set your priorities and boundaries. By re-evaluating often, the balance can be maintained.
Periodic assessment of your personal balance will go a long way in ensuring a balanced lifestyle. There is no need for huge shifts; you can look to make small but effective changes.
How comfortable are you with change? Does it bother you? Are you able to take change into your stride? Unless you welcome change, there can be no growth. Only stress. A quick look at your goals can be useful here. What are your short/mid/long term goals? How successful are you, at what stage of your goals are you? Goals give a sense of purpose to life, and when these goals are met, there is a sense of achievement and fulfillment.
Goals can be broken down into small doable units, it is then easier to achieve them. Do not have too many goals, they may tend to confuse you. Or overwhelm you.
There are several reasons for the imbalance. In the area of career, the reasons could include global conflicts, competition, long working hours and doing international business. Competition can lead to shorter timeline to achieve targets, and a sense of urgency. In the cut throat area of business, the faster you are able to deliver, the more business you can drum up for yourself.
On the personal front, the reasons could be conflict with spouse, colleague, management, family, children, immediate family, etc. Marital strife, or problems with one’s aged parents can be stressful. Chronic illness in the family, different work locations, difficult boss, or even quarrelsome neighbors can be draining of energy. It is not that there should not be any conflict in life. That would be wishful thinking. How can you learn to cope, and cope adequately, is the question.
On your life chart, how much time do you think these areas: Career; Health; Self; Spiritual; Money; Relationship; require? If you have 14 useful hours a day, how many hours do you think each area needs? Then you will have to see how much time you actually devote to these areas. Under Health, are you exercising? Dieting? Eating healthy? Under area of Self, do you have “me” time? Do you have hobbies/relaxation?
Under area Career, are you devoting more time than necessary? It depends on what stage of your career you are. If you are starting, then you will require to spend more time. But it means you end up deleting some time from some other area. Later you can rework your priorities and reset the balance. Under the area of Spiritual, do you do something to commune with your Maker? Do you believe in one Power?
Under the area of Money, how much time do you spend? Not just earning, but making plans to save, invest, spend, and make some more? Under the area of Relationship, how much time do you actually give to your spouse, child, parents, friends and other social groups?
Your ideal life chart and the real one, how much do they differ? What is required to set right an imbalance, if any? How will you go about it? Where do you need to say NO to achieve more balance? Where do you need to say YES to achieve more balance? What will happen if you say NO or YES to those respective areas?
Some of the physical symptoms of imbalance will be headaches, sleep disturbances, muscle tension, even fatigue.
Emotional symptoms could include anxiety, irritability, difficulty making decisions, feeling of powerlessness and angry outbursts.
On the personal front the symptoms will be job burnout, losing time with family and friends, relationship issue and even self medication.
One exercise to help you restore balance would be:
Identify the two areas that you’re most satisfied. (Career, Health, Self, Spiritual, Money, Relationship) Can they be made better?
Identify the two areas that you’re least satisfied. How can you improve on them?
Some of the barriers to balance could be thoughts and feeling of there being no time; feeling guilty of spending more time in some area (working mother with a kid); feelings of I should…; in a race to climb the ladder; failure to set limits; inability to say NO; and or comparing with others.
Some beliefs like suffering from stress is a weakness; one needs to keep one’s stress to oneself; others are to be blamed for one’s stress; cutting down on areas like health/leisure/social areas can improve balance; or even believing that there is only one solution to every problem; can impede balance. When the one solution does not work, then what?
Benefits of Work Life Balance would be: More value and balance in daily life, increased productivity, improved on-the-job and off-the-job relationship, reduced stress.
TIPS: Learn self management, Humor, Learn to say NO!, Use technology, Attend work/life balance seminars!, Community service, Avail leave, Breathe ,Walk, Exercise, Sleep, Plan an unplanned day, Do the unexpected, Play, Laugh, Leave town, Electronic fast, Slow down, etc.
In conclusion, a balanced life style boosts the sense of responsibility and ownership. It leads to better relationship in personal life and with management. Self confidence gets a tremendous boost. So be prepared to make small but effective changes for betterment.