Prioritizing Balance Between Work and all Areas of Life
Finding Balance Through Authentic Choices is the core mission of Ideas for Divas. Work life balance is a popular topic on business and wellness publications and it has gained more traction over the past two years. But does it make sense to split what is important for our fulfillment and happiness between work and the rest?
Life used to be organized around professional life. Organizational psychologist and best seller author Adam Grant has some insightful articles about how this is changing.
The Grand Resignation is a reflection of this shift in perception of the importance of professional and personal life.
My LinkedIn feed nowadays is all about people announcing that they are either switching jobs or leaving what would be considered successful careers to spend time focusing on personal life and exploring different opportunities and paths.
Defining balance between professional and personal life
So, instead of focusing on work-life balance, let's focus on balance. What does balance really mean? If you Google it, you'll find the definition below:
Balance is a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
For life balance we divide our time into the activities or elements that are priority for us - spending time with family, friends, exercising, studying, practicing sports, learning something new, working, having fun and so on.
The challenge is to find the 'correct proportions', for a right balance as individuals have different priorities and those can change depending on multiple variables such as phase in life, health status, career goals, interests, ambitions, and a major life event.
In this post we'll discuss how to identify the elements that are priority for you now and the proportions that work for your individual life balance. We'll also explore how helping others and letting them support you can move you forward on your balance journey.
Achieving life balance
Yes, this is a journey that needs to be re-calculated as you evolve and as the environment changes around you. That's the magic of life, we're always learning and progressing.
As a reference, this great HBR article mentions that work life balance is a cycle, not an achievement. One should be often pausing and reflecting on your emotions and assessing mental health and work life balance. If the reflection reveals the need and desire for a better work life balance one should reprioritize various areas of life, consider alternatives for a healthier work life balance and implement changes.
Here are the 3 strategies to build life balance:
1. Prioritize what makes you happy to improve life balance
It seems logical, but sometimes we are so used to a routine that it's hard to stop and reflect if we are organizing our days to maximize joy and happiness.
First step is to identify what brings you joy. Go back to the post about happiness if you need inspiration. Sometimes reflecting on the opposite - what brings you poor work life balance, chronic stress, anxiety - also helps you to get to your answer.
Focus on physical health for good work life balance
I enjoy exercising - it gives me energy to be productive in everything that I do. Feeling healthy and fit also boosts my self-esteem contributing to my confidence. On the flip-side, if I don't exercise, my body complains - I have a hard time concentrating and my back hurts.
Thus, when I get out of bed I put on workout clothes, to get in the mood of working out. I also block my calendar in the morning for personal time, to avoid meetings before 8AM so I have enough time for my healthy morning routine. If my exercise time gets reduced in the morning due to other commitments, no problem - I will be active for at least 10min in the morning, then I'll go to the gym or go for a long walk in the evening.
Taking at least 2h in the day to focus on my wellness through workouts, outdoor activities, yoga, meditation and journaling is among the top of my elements for balance and healthy lifestyle and I prioritize accordingly.
2. Take ownership for creating balance in your personal life
So, you identified the elements that make you happy and you are ready to prioritize them in your life according to the proportions that make sense for you, so you can enjoy balance. But you're pulled into different directions according to others' priorities and you struggle to allocate the time that you want for the elements that matter.
Your choices will help you to reduce stress and improve balance
Everyday you'll be making multiple choices that will bring you closer or farther from the balance you aspire. Establishing boundaries, saying 'no' when requested to do activities that are not aligned to your purpose and, mostly being true to yourself will help you to choose what brings you joy and aligns to your life balance.
These choices may not be easy in the beginning, especially if, like me, you are a 'people pleaser'. But as you start enjoying what makes you happy everyday, it will become natural to prioritize the elements for life balance in the proportions that make most sense for you.
3. Support those around you to have better work-life balance and they will support you
I am an introvert and I have a hard time opening up with co-workers, friends and even loved ones. But I've recently realized that if I share my goals related to work life balance and I understand others' goals, we can help each other to achieve them.
As I mentioned before I started blocking my calendar to avoid meetings before 8AM, to have quality time for personal activities. When talking about working hours with co-workers, I have better understood their boundaries, and also helped my teams to feel empowered to establish and achieve their own balance goals while strengthening our relationships.
Accountability partner for a healthy work life balance
Having an accountability partner also helps when creating new healthy balance habits. I am great at prioritizing a healthy routine and I want to create a writing habit. My partner is a writer and is trying to exercise more consistently. We're helping each other to adjust our routines and create the habits to prioritize these elements in our balance. Keep in mind that, to be successful, you need to craft a habit that will work for you, not copy someone else's routine.
My exercising routine doesn't work for my partner and his writing routine also doesn't work for me. We're helping each other to create new routines based on our experience.
So team up to increase balance around you and that will help you to progress in your journey too.
Manage your working hours and personal life to improve well being and balance
Here is how one of our readers is prioritizing balance while focusing on his career:
As a self-employed business owner working exclusively from home, the single most important thing that I have found that preserves balance is to keep a clear line in the sand between work hours and personal hours. I set clear hours that are fair game for working, and I do not allow myself to work outside of those hours. In addition to the clear benefits to my well-being of having downtime in my own home, having specific work hours enables me to be more efficient when I am working, because I know that I have to accomplish certain tasks by a certain time of day.
Don Krishnaswami - Health and wellness industry Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA
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