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Work-Life Balance

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September 29, 2023 No Comments
How does your personal life affect your career?

Whether we like to admit it or not, all of our personal lives have somehow sneaked into our career lives. Regardless of the difficulties we experience in our home lives, we all make stoic efforts to not have our personal issues affect our work environment. We do this because we know that even though we might have serious home/family or health problems, we are still expected to still meet our performance expectations and act professionally. As unrealistic as that may seem, it is a fact of life we must acknowledge.

We need to find ways to address this issue so it doesn’t harm our careers. Here are a few

suggestions:

1. Talk to your boss or employer regarding any serious issues only, without oversharing. See if you can take any personal or vacation time off. Check if your company offers an Employee Assistance Program that might be able to provide you assistance.

2. Implement digital boundaries – be accessible only if necessary for after work hours.

3. Try to get your emotional needs met, not during work hours.

Also, it should be pointed out that our career lives can have a devastating effect on our home lives as well, for better or worse. There are many ways our work lives can spill into our personal lives. Here are five of the main reasons:

1. The time spent away from home – Americans work longer, more than any other industrialized nation, in terms of hours per week and years until retirement. However, unfortunately, in recent surveys, it has been documented that almost 53% of Americans are unhappy in their work.

2. Stress – If your work keeps you overly busy, you might just want to crash on the couch once you get home, neglecting your family members. Or if stress (from a high-stress work environment) becomes your new normal, you might also feel stressed at home.

3. Your health – Your overall health is greatly impacted by your workplace habits. 

Performing repetitive tasks or simply sitting at a computer all day can have an effect on your long-term health consequences. Your physical well-being can be impacted by the quality of your work-related health insurance, or how you handle any upsets that occur at work or if you are disengaged.

4. Your complacency – if you drag yourself to a job you don’t particularly like, every day, simply because you don’t want to make a change, or feel incapable of finding a better job, this mentality will slip into other aspects of your life as well. When you have feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction or overall discomfort, it will be difficult to leave those feelings at work when you head home for the day.

5. Your friends and amusement – just like complacency, if you enjoy your work and the people you work with, and the impact in the world you make through your career, at the end of the day, when you go home, you might feel a sense of loss or disappointment or unable to find similar feelings of satisfaction at home. Also, since the majority of your time is at work, most likely your co-workers become your friends and thereby the socialpatterns of your colleagues become your own. You may find yourself feeling lonely or left out, if you are more or less social than your average co-worker, given the impact your career can have on your personal life, you need to take steps to improve your work environment.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Positive reinforcement – pause and acknowledge when one of your teammates does something well!

2. Set targets (as a team) and whoever meets those targets, gets a reward.

3. Plan theme-oriented outings (not just holiday parties) where you can integrate family members into your fun!

4. Ask management to add some office perks, like an espresso bar or weekly snacks!

If a culture of fun is created in the work environment, it will cause employees to become engaged and inspired.

Someone will have to be placed in charge, however, your individual efforts can have a ripple effect on the whole office and will most definitely be noticed by management. And most importantly, if you are happier at work, that joy and satisfaction can be carried home with you.

What needs to be understood in all of this is that you need to have a proper work/life balance.

What is that you ask? Your work/life balance can be defined as the notion that describes the ideal situation in which employees can split their time and energy equally between work and other important aspects of their lives. It is a daily challenge to achieve a work-life balance. It is difficult to make time for community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, family, friends and other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace.

Here are five steps to achieve the most satisfying life/work balance. They are as follows: 

1. Prioritize and re-prioritize frequently – You must remember that your work/life balance may not be the same as your friends or co-workers, do not use their lives as an example of how you should proceed. Also, you need to re-prioritize as your life changes, if you’ve recently become a single parent, bought a home or got promoted, your priorities will definitely be different. To ensure that your work/life balance aligns with your purpose, you must constantly re-evaluate your priorities. Also, let go of being a perfectionist and time-wasting people and activities.

2. Make sure to set your work/life boundaries firmly and stick to them! Early in your career, this might prove to be a difficult task. However, this is something you will not ever regret.

By establishing those boundaries early on, you can save a lot of frustration later. An example might be to advise your supervisor that unless it is absolutely necessary and can’t wait until the next day, please do not call you at home after work hours.You need to be assertive!

3. Be consistent – if work/life boundaries are not honored, acknowledge what happened and re-establish those boundaries. If need be, educate your boss on what constitutes an emergency and if you state you’re offline on the weekends, then don’t answer companyemails on Saturday afternoon. This shows them your words mean nothing and crossing those boundaries is fair game!

4. Unplug DAILY – find time every single day to be offline, whether it’s an extra hour on the way home from work, or after the kids are in bed. Also, establish family traditions that can’t be ignored, like Saturday movie night or going to services every weekend. Children will remember those more than your hours on the job. 

5. Wipe your slate – My piano teacher used to tell us before a concert to empty our bucket or wipe our slate. This meant we needed to clear our minds of anything unrelated to the piano piece we would be playing, we needed to only focus on the moment. We need to do this on our way home from work and on the way into work, so we can give 100% to the task at hand.

6. Get support! – Find people to support your efforts – this can be your partner or friend. As hard as we try, we need help as it is difficult to do this on our own. Find those special people who applaud your efforts and can assist you when everything doesn’t go as planned.

In conclusion, being a happy employee, who is a spouse, single parent, or single individual and achieving a comfortable work-life balance doesn’t just happen randomly anymore than does a great career. It takes strategy and thought. You can make work-life balance a labor of love—after all, it is about love for yourself and the others in your life.

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