We’ve all heard the term – and we all want it – but it takes a commitment. Most of all, it needs to be practical!
A work-life balance is, of course, a very individual thing, and we need to find a way that works for us.
So, what makes up ‘your’ work-life balance? Have a think about what you’re trying to achieve in life. What are your goals for yourself and perhaps your family? The goals we need to consider, though, aren’t things like financial security and being a good provider (although they’re very important, of course). We need to think about what gives our life meaning and makes it more worthwhile because we have a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
Once we have something in mind, we need to very deliberately put it into place. It’s best to begin with a fairly rigid schedule and strategy that we can modify if needed. Whatever the specifics are, however, there are some strategies we can apply to make it more likely to be a success.
1. Practice Mindfulness. This is essentially self-awareness. It doesn’t have to be anything like meditation (although that’s something good to consider). It can be as simple as checking in with yourself a couple of times a day and thinking “How can I improve today?” Even if it’s only for a short period of time.
2. Look for silver linings. Even in negative situations, there are likely to be some benefits that can be grasped. Try to not focus on the negatives. That’s a process called PLOM’ing – which means Poor Little Old Me – and that isn’t helpful for anyone, because it just serves to emphasise what isn’t going well. So don’t just look at negatives, make the emphasis on finding solutions.
3. Work on building positive emotions. What can you think about, or get involved with, that makes you feel good? What sort of things are you grateful for? Think of, and get in touch with, your friends. Engage in your hobbies – they’re things we know will make us feel good.
4. Take advantage of your social support. Don’t wait for your friends and family to reach out to you – you can always get in touch with them! Let them help you. They probably want to do that for you as much as you would like to do it for them. You almost certainly won’t be imposing on them or being a burden.
5. Find some good colleagues and mentors at work. Look for some people who might be able to support you, both with day-to-day work and with your career goals. Are there people you trust, who can give you advice on your thoughts, concerns, and aspirations?
6. Get moving! Yes, get out and be active! Exercise is the closest thing we have to a magic pill for so many things that ail us. You will feel good and, if things aren’t going so well, will help to improve depression and anxiety, and can prevent cognitive decline as we age.
7. Why not combine some activity with getting outside? Spend some time in nature – in places that just make you feel good. If nothing else, your stress levels will decrease, and that’s good enough to me!
8. Look for ways to make your life meaningful. Engage in things that matter to you. Are there things you can volunteer for that make life more worthwhile? What hobbies can you engage in? Are you attracted to religion or spirituality?
Life isn’t a rehearsal, as they say. We need to get out there and live it, so make sure that you don’t focus too much on your work. Balance it with things that just make your life better!