5 Steps to Finding Balance
Good old, ever-elusive work-life balance. It’s a huge issue for most women and one of the biggest reasons we become unhappy in our jobs (at least it was for me). And it’s easy to see why. Without it relationships crumble, health deteriorates, stress levels soar, and the list goes on and on…
Yet, most of us think we’ve only got two choices: give up on the idea all together and become a slave to our careers, or quit and become a kept woman or stay at home mom.
Now I’m definitely not claiming that I’ve mastered this completely. I’m a recovering type-A, overachiever, so I’ve gotta work at it every day. But, over the course of my career, I’ve paid attention to what women who seem more success in this department did to get there. And it all comes down to five basic principles…
- Take time to figure out what “balance” even means. No two women are exactly alike, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. For most of us, a 50/50 split between personal priorities and work isn’t even what we want. It’s more about getting really in tune with what makes us tick and the specific things we need to feel healthy and happy. When you figure that out, it’s crazy how much easier it is to work those things into the schedule and know what things to cut out.
- Know the exact payoff for doing things just for you. When you’re feeling off kilter, it’s usually a symptom of something you’re craving. Emotional well-being, clarity, stress relief, an energy boost…or even just a quick time out from a crazy day…it doesn’t matter. Women who have figured out the “balance” game don’t feel selfish doing things just for them, because they know exactly what they get from them. They also get that there’s a cost when they don’t. Take your yoga class after work. You might think, “I don’t need to spend that $15 and I don’t have time tonight – I have too much to do.” But what if going helped you relax so you were more patient when you got home? Or helped you sleep better making you be even 20% more focused and productive the next day? Would that be worth $15 and 60 minutes?
- Clearly communicate boundaries and why they are important. Does it feel like your schedule is at the mercy of everyone else? Well, then, I’m sorry to say that’s probably because you’re letting others hijack it. There are lots of places you can draw a line in the sand – especially if you’re clear in your communication. Here’s an example. Constantly getting stuck at work and missing your evening bootcamp? How ‘bout telling your team something like this: “For me, a workout in the evenings is key for me to bring my A-game every day, so it’s important for me to leave the office promptly by 6PM each day. Can we find a way to make that possible?” Instead of a setting a clear expectation up front, most of us just assume it would be frowned upon if everyone else is burning the midnight oil. But don’t you think your boss would rather have your A-game than have you at the office every day until 8 getting mediocre results?
- Foster a culture that values personal time. By acting as role models and showing respect for the personal time and interests of co-workers, clients, friends and family, they actually garner reciprocal respect, support and understanding for their personals activities and time. Remember that whole golden rule thing?
- Love what you do. Finally, many people that struggle most with work-life balance feel like they are giving up something they’d rather be doing, to do something they don’t enjoy or have to do to pay the bills. But for people who love what they do, work doesn’t feel like “work” and they are less likely to feel they’re giving up something better for the daily grind. What would make that feeling change for you? It may mean a career change or just a small shift in job responsibilities.
The reality is 100% balance isn’t a practical goal. So don’t even try. Instead, figure out the sweet spot – your own unique blend of things that’s going to make you the happiest, best version of yourself. By doing a few things, it’s very possible to find harmony, or that unique sweet spot that’s going to make you the happiest, best version of yourself you can be.
So the real question is, which of these things do you need to be looking at most? And what’s one thing you will do this week to take more control of it?
Go on, girlfriend, dish it up below….we want to know!
And if this is something you’re just itching to dig into even more, we’ve got just the dinner invitation for you.