The concept of achieving work-life balance is very personal and subjective as it is determined by so many variables;
· changes in family status
· family commitments
· state of health
· personal events
Factor in the busy and uncertain world we live in. Are we yearning for too much? Is this achievable or just pie in the sky stuff? Definitely a tough call but one we need to make a choice about.
Defining work-life balance is difficult as it differs for everyone. Values and attitudes towards life, are thrown in the mix coupled with factors like the generation one belongs to.
Ask a Baby Boomer, Gen X or Millennial what maintaining a healthy work-life balance means and you’ll likely get very different answers. The older generations were happy going to work, spending time with family.
Younger generations love the component of eating out at restaurants during the week and socialising with colleagues and friends, to break the week’s monotony.
In the broadest sense, maintaining a healthy work life means finding ways to work in a stable and sustainable manner, while taking care of one’s health and general well-being. In this case, to prevent burnout and chronic stress!
Billions of dollars are spent globally, on keeping mental health at work on the radar. Many employees suffer due to the psychological and physical problems created by burn out. So, as the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”.
Observing clients over the years and global trends, I have not had to look far or research statistics to know the effects of not achieving work-life balance.
So, it makes sense that achieving work-life balance should be one of the primary goals of anyone who has to juggle a career and family. As an advocate of self-management, I urge people I meet to attend a stress management course before it is too late.
Stress has a way of internalising itself while gripping the person, much like a knotted up rope. An NLP for self-management course would offer many tips and tools to unknot one’s self.
I find clients believing that this is their fate and nothing can be done about it. John Grinder, the co-founder of NLP taught me a fabulous response - “don’t flatter yourself.” The presupposition being that they are so different to everyone else and nothing can be done.
Today there are a multitude of courses and people who one can turn to for help. You are not so different or unique that a stress management course would work on everyone else but you. Attending courses to achieve work-life balance has been proven to reduce stress and boost satisfaction both at the workplace and home.
More companies are addressing work-life balance issues to help keep employees satisfied and deeply engaged. Some companies go the extra mile and tout their flexible work environment and work-life balance ethics to hire employees.
Whether you’re lucky enough to be in such a company or not, I’d like to share five ways to achieving work-life balance.
1.Evaluate Your Life
Scan every area of your life - career, home, family, community, health, wealth, spirituality and social life. Observe if some areas are more problematic than others. Examine why this is so.
Do this through the Wheel of Life, a simple yet powerful tool that provides the big picture of current situation which easily highlights segments that are off-balance. This gives individuals clarity and direction at the stroke of a brush.
2. Set Boundaries
There are many people in this world who find it hard to say NO. Think about it. How many times have you agreed to do something you didn’t have the time and energy for. You could have just said NO.
Setting healthy boundaries related to time is important for achieving work-life balance. Taking on more than you can handle not only stresses you but also throws you off kilter.
Setting boundaries is also related to your values. For example, you can be subjected to major stress if you are asked to do something that compromises your integrity and you just can’t say no.
3. It’s Okay to Seek Help
When you are swamped at the office or have too many commitments at home it’s perfectly ok to reach out for help. Seeking help is a sign of responsibility and maturity. Check out a stress management course to take charge and empower yourself.
Keep colleagues informed of changes or emergencies at home that require your attention and vice versa. Ask your children, spouse, siblings or close friends for support and return the favour when they need it.
4. It’s Not About Perfection
There’s no such thing as the perfect work-life balance. Achieving work-life balance is more likely if you are realistic rather than trying to keep to some rigid schedule. It does not mean dividing your time equally between work and personal life.
Your mental health at work depends on you finding and maintaining an equilibrium that suits your status, your needs and your wants. The question to be answered here is, are you satisfied with what you’re achieving at work and still have the time and energy to enjoy your personal life too.
It is counter-productive to stress about not keeping to a schedule when unexpected events happen at work or home. Achieving work-life balance is not a static goal. Treat it as a state of mind or work in progress.
There may be some periods of downtime at work when you can enjoy more personal time. And of course, there will be times when family has to put up with your absence or personal matters have to be placed on hold, to meet a tight deadline or emergency at work.
5. Self-care is Not Selfish
When you take care of your physical and psychological well-being it boosts your mental health at work and home as well. Contrary to the perception that taking time off for oneself is selfish, it is actually irresponsible not to do so. Think of the consequences of not taking care of yourself.
You suffer physical discomfort and mental anguish if you fall ill as a result of burnout or chronic stress. Family and colleagues who depend on you would suffer too. It could even have a snowball effect on a whole chain of commitments and people you’re connected to.
Whether you work for an organisation, run your own business or are self-employed, achieving work-life balance should be at the top of your agenda. The cost of neglecting work-life balance is always higher than whatever time, energy or money you invest in maintaining it.
Take matters into your hands and pre-empt your good mental health at work by attending a stress management course or NLP for self-management. These are the types of resources that will accelerate your wellbeing and keep you ahead of the curve.
Sylvia is a qualified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Trainer. She started her business in Sydney and is now based in Singapore.