In light of the recent media marketing campaigns surrounding mental health, I thought it apt to base this month’s column on the importance of maintaining that all important work -life balance, we all work so hard to achieve and that very statement is somehow ironic in itself…
It bodes the question; do you ‘work to live’ or do you ‘live to work’?
Ask yourself; which one do you fall under? I would have to say I am a bit of both- I work in order to bring in an income – to live, however I also love my job and wouldn’t feel fulfilled and happy unless I was working/achieving/being productive and challenging myself professionally.
I’m sure many can relate to this, but it poses the question; when is enough enough? We all work different hours/schedules and our personal circumstances often dictate this. Many of us work because we have no choice and others are in a fortunate enough position not to have to work, but still choose to. Whatever your reasons, if you are a worker – a professional, whether employed or running your own business, it’s worth remembering your ‘WHY’. Meaning every so often- go back to the beginning of why you do what you do and then incorporate this into your day, your week your month to use as motivation. Whether your why is your family, travelling goals, a house renovation, that brand new car- basically the dream (s) you want to fulfil by the time you are a certain age. Have these in your mind or even better create a vision board and place it somewhere prominent in your home or office, so that you can refer to it every so often and remind yourself as to the reasons you are doing what you are doing.
Achieving the work life balance is not easy, I have been guilty in the past of burn-out. Working long hours with not enough breaks/days off/holidays. I once went seven years without a holiday only to suddenly realise it all too late, when insomnia crept in and anxiety and stress levels hit the roof. I was ‘too busy’ to take time off for a holiday – I didn’t want to leave my business- It couldn’t possibly survive two weeks without me. I know now that was nonsense and was nothing a simple ‘out of office’ on my emails, and a bit of pre-planning couldn’t fix.
So why do we do it to ourselves?
Generally speaking, you could argue that it’s because we fall into the trap of routine. Humans are creatures of habit and as our work loads organically increase, we adjust naturally to accommodate that until before we know it, we are wearing seventeen hats and doing the workload of three other people- how did that happen? Quite easily actually! Most of the time it is unintentional, but that said as long as we become aware of this and bring ourselves back to base- manage our own expectations and remember that its okay to say no once in a while in order to take care of our own health and wellbeing, we can be well on our way to achieving that work – life balance we should all be enjoying.
So, what can you do about it?
Review your current situation, be brutal and rate each element of your job, your financial status, your friends, family, relationship, hobbies etc. out of ten. Basically, look at all the key elements that make up your life as a whole and give them an honest rating; 0ne being it couldn’t get any worse and ten being it couldn’t get better. Then work on improving the lower marks and balancing up each element equally. The aim here is to try to allocate enough time to each important element of your life, so that you are not neglecting any of the areas – this in turn will create more of a balance overall. An example might be that you are working hard therefore scoring highly on your chart. Work is flying and so in turn your finance rating is also high, as you are bringing in the money. Your family and friends rating may however be lower because of this, as you are not allowing as much time with them as you’d like to and your health is also in decline because you are not taking the time to eat healthily or go to the gym- therefore are you 100% happy and fulfilled? This may sound like a really simple exercise, but sometimes it helps to see things in black and white- right there in front of you, in order to inspire you to do something about it before its too late and these negative elements have a detrimental impact on your health or life as whole.
Achieving that all important work – life balance is not always as difficult as you may think, though sometimes it feels impossible. Share your challenges with others, surround yourself with like-minded people, attempt changes one step at a time and remember keep talking.