Success and fulfilment come when all aspects of our lives are in balance. We are able to look at our careers, relationships, hobbies, finances, personal development, physical environment, social lives, spirituality and/or religion, emotional well-being and health and say, “I am happy in every area”. We experience work-life balance.
Even just one of those things out of balance can severely impact how a person feels on a day-to-day basis. Why? Because generally, when one is out of balance – something else suffers. Let’s say you want to get that promotion and increase your salary – because you want to provide for your family and make them happy. Your salary and career might soar, but then you spend less time with family and your stress levels are through the roof. Then your family say that they hardly ever see you and when they do they only see the stressed version of you and everyone is unhappy. You can’t win.
It is no surprise then many people often feel as though they are being pulled in multiple directions – with no real sense of control or balance. This can lead to increased levels of stress, unhappiness and fatigue. In extreme cases it can result in feelings of apathy and disassociation.
Gaining back that sense of control and working towards a level of balance is crucial for a happy life – for you and your loved ones. So how can we go about moving closer to that all-elusive work-life balance?
Appreciate that work-life balance is not a final destination. It is a continuous journey that will require life-long assessment and reassessment. Why is this the case? Because life constantly changes: through the decisions we make and unexpected events. As well as the fact that our priorities change over time. So, what looks like work-life balance today might not look like work-life balance in a years’ time. Knowing this is essential for maintaining a happy life.
Recognise that in order for you to be the best version of yourself – the best parent, spouse, friend, employee, boss, son/daughter, sibling etc. – you need to take care of yourself. You have to make your health and happiness a priority. Otherwise you risk alienating those you love and respect because they only get to experience you at your worst. Set yourself regular time to rest, have fun and rejuvenate so you can recharge those batteries. Because a dead battery is of no use to anyone.
Figure out what exactly work-life balance means to you. What would an average day – a day that you would be happy to live on repeat – look like? Where do you wake up? Who with? What time? What do you see out of the window? What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? How do you feel? Go through the rest of the day until bedtime – always asking yourself “What do I see, hear and feel?” at each stage of the day. Go into as much detail as possible – describing people, environments, daily tasks or responsibilities, job details, your location, the sound of laughter or people working inspirationally with one another. Describe colours, shapes, sounds, personalities, feelings, faces, actions – the more detail the better.
Once you have an idea of your perfect day – assess where you are now. How are you spending your time? What are you doing each day? Who with? Where and when? And then compare it to your dream day. Look for the gaps and differences – big and small.
As you assess the gaps, take note of any emotions that come up. Any ‘negative’ emotions are a message the life you’re living now is not aligned to who you are and what is most important to you. These are your values. If you want to live a fulfilling life and experience work-life balance – aligning your life to you values is the key.
Time to identify your core values. Examples of values could be:
Pick your top 7 values (include any that might not be on the list above) and ask yourself, “If I was experiencing those top 7 values on a regular basis – would I even care where I was spending my time if all of those were present in my world?”.
If you are not experiencing work-life balance, it’s because you are not experiencing the things that are really important to you. And when I say experience, I mean experience. Let’s just say one of your top values is family. Now when you come home from work to spend time with them, but that whole time you’re either on your phone, still working, worrying about money, stressing about being a good parent, employee or spouse – are you really experiencing your family?
The problem isn’t where your physical body is spending time. It’s where your heart and your mind are spending time. Until you solve that problem and start experiencing your values – no amount of planning, order and time management will result in work-life balance. Until you are experiencing your values, it will never feel like work-life balance.
In order to feel a sense of work-life balance you must start to align your life and career to your values. So what changes could you make to your life and career so you can start to experience more of your top values on a day-to-day basis?
Do you need to change careers? Do you need to find more purpose in your current job? Do you need to learn how to let go of control and delegate – even if the task won’t be completed to your usual high standards? Do you need to schedule time for rest and relaxation and put yourself first for once? Do you need to learn how to manage youremotions better? Do you need to learn how to switch off? Do you need to learn a new skill? Change locations? Enhance your CV and interview skills?
What resources are available to you that can help you? Resources include people (e.g. friends, family, a life coach or career coach, colleagues, fellow parents, mentors) money, time, reading materials, online resources, workshops etc. My advice – always start with the question: who do I know that can help or advise me?
It’s time to start making some changes. What 3 actions can you take this week, that will help you get closer to aligning your life to your values and achieve better work-life balance?
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About the Author
Zeta Yarwood is recognised as a leading Career Coach and NLP Life Coach in Dubai, helping individuals across the world to achieve success in all areas of their lives. With a degree in Psychology and over 10 years’ experience in coaching, management and recruitment – working for multinational companies and award-winning recruitment firms – Zeta is an expert in unlocking human potential. Passionate about helping people discover their strengths, talents and motivation, Zeta lives to inspire others to dream big and create the life and career they really want.