“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” Confucius. HA. No, I shouldn’t be so cynical, but not all of us get the luxury of finding a job we love and never feeling like we have to work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and I know many people that love their jobs. But sometimes jobs just feel like work and sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we need to work on the ever-elusive work/life balance.
What is work/life balance? For each individual, it is unique, but it is balancing work energy with everything else. Without it we see burn out, less productivity, and high tension. Work/life balance is part of a sustainable workforce, one where employees have positive energy, capabilities, vitality, and resources to meet the organization’s needs and demands. Employers should be focused on providing balance to their employees and employees should make decisions that bring them closer to a balance. Achieving balance is about making choices, and as employees there are some choices we can make to achieve balance.
1. Define Success for You - It’s your life, choose your success goals, at work and at home. Do you see success as being home every evening to read kids a bedtime story, or is it making every youth soccer game? What are your success factors for family time, volunteer time, or income earned? Define it and work towards it. Planning tip – add personal plans to your work calendar and schedule time for yourself. Knowing what success looks like for you will also help you manage the expectations of others.
2. Manage Technology - Do you manage yours? With smart phones and laptops it’s easy to always be working. Throw in managing your company’s social media stream and you are now on call 24/7, because the Internet will not wait. With constant access to work, you must decide when, where, and how you will be accessible for work.
3. Build Support Networks at Home and at Work - Do you have support at home to discuss ideas and vent? It is important to have a safe place to talk about the challenges you are facing or to get a fresh perspective on an idea. Seek out sounding boards at work that you can bounce ideas off of and find colleagues you can trust that help you reach your goals.
4. Collaborate with your Partner - Does your partner and family share your vision of career success? Setting career goals together gives you the support needed to achieve them. This may be your partner reminding you of the goals, or calling you to task when you start taking too much on.
While life will not go exactly as planned, knowing what you want and scheduling time for your goals, personal and career, will help you reach work/life balance.