January 10, 2022
For most people, the first part of January is always a transition and can be overwhelming. Trying to fit in all the things we have to do, what we want to do, as well as self-care in our 24 hours can be a lot to sort through. What if you add a layer and incorporate work into this story? Talk about juggling! We try to balance it out, but it tends to lean one way or another, and can feel like a losing battle.
You may be familiar with the term, work/life balance. It is usually defined as the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing the things you enjoy. The term, work/life balance, has a lot of weight. Balance means 50/50, so does that mean 50% of my time is work and 50% personal time? For many that is not realistic, wanted, or even possible to maintain. Newer terms such as work-life blend, work-life harmony, and work-family balance, have been created to shift away from the “balancing act” to looking at these two distinct parts of life.
So which term is right?
Instead of trying to define it, I suggest thinking about how it’s making you feel. Ask yourself:
“Does the life I’m living make me feel content, excited, and satisfied; or is it making me feel overwhelmed, not enough, or unhappy?”
If striving to achieve the balance act is no longer working for you, I encourage you to think about it as a journey- a continuous exercise that requires you to assess circumstances, be self-aware, and make the necessary tweaks to support you in the ever-changing experience that is life.
As we head into another year where many of us are still working from home, it’s important to have tools to support you along your journey. January brings the opportunity to restart. How can we begin to shift our thinking around what balance means, or challenge if it is a realistic notion? Below are some steps to get you started in understanding where you are and where you want to be.
Understanding Your Values:
Values are your principles or standards of behavior- the things you consider important in life. When our actions reflect our values, we feel good about what we are doing. However, when we do things that are contradictory to our values, we can feel frustrated and even angry. Taking the time to define and understand our values can help give clarity and allow for shifting priorities when we feel out-of-balance. If you are unclear on what your values are, ask yourself what makes you feel good and what is important to you in life? Take 3-5 minutes to journal what comes to mind. Identify the top three words that best resonate with you.
Creating boundaries is an empowering act of self-care that protects your time, energy, and emotional well-being. A lack of boundaries can lead to tension, misunderstanding, and resentment, especially when we are trying to do all the things for all of the people in our lives. Begin by identifying when a boundary needs to be set. Once you’ve decided upon and set the boundary, communicate the boundary to the appropriate parties, and recognize when your boundary is being crossed, so you can course-correct and possibly communicate some more.
Exercising choice is one of the most empowering acts we can do as individuals. When you believe you have little or no choice in how you live your life or what you can do with your life, it can often lead to a little or no satisfaction. It’s important to make choices with a clear understanding of its impact on those around us and most importantly ourselves. As you begin to better define how all facets of life can work together, look for opportunities every day to make small, meaningful choices that support you, and bring you closer to your preferred outcome.
Defining Your Journey:
Gaining clarity on what you want for yourself is the most important step toward identifying and implementing how you want to work and live. Take some time to assess which direction you want your work-life balance journey to lead, as well as how it will feel once you get there. Your path should be based on what is most important to you at any given time. Find ways, every day, to make choices that support you moving in the direction that you want to go.
Checking In With Yourself:
As with any journey, circumstances and priorities change. By doing continual check points, you can help shift and adapt your professional and personal life to one that works best for you. Bringing awareness of your emotional state is important to determine the changes you want to make in your work and in your life.
Remember that the work life dance doesn’t mean that everything is happening at the same time, all the time, or that you have to carve out time in equal buckets. It’s about fitting the important pieces together in a way that avoids burnout and promotes a sense of fulfillment and equilibrium.