Nowadays, we hear a lot about work-life balance and why it's important to have, whether for mental health or simply for quality of life. But what exactly is work-life balance? How do we know when we've learned the balancing act?
Sometimes it can feel like we throw "work-life balance" around so much that the phrase loses its meaning, its importance. Everyone seems to be focused on achieving that delicate balance, where we can thrive both in our personal lives and in our careers. We like to think that we're living a balanced life, but are we?
If one of these three statements doesn't ring true for you, you probably need to focus on improving your work-life balance, and maybe rethink your priorities too.
I Have Time To Pursue Hobbies
For most of us, our passions aren't something we can monetize. In fact, the vast majority of working professionals will not have a career that they are passionate about. They may be excited about the problem they're trying to solve at their company. But is it their passion? Probably not.
This is why hobbies are so important. Hobbies give us that much-needed outlet for our passions. They add meaning and value to our lives. They let us channel our creativity and help us pass the time in a relaxing way that also feels productive. Most importantly, hobbies give us something to look forward to when we're done work, and can even help us cope with stress.
When we don't have time to pursue hobbies, we're at risk of becoming burnt out and demoralized employees. So, try kickboxing or painting or knitting. Make it a priority. Write it down on your calendar. We're sure you can think of at least one thing you wish you had more time to devote to. Why aren't you devoting more time to it? This is one of the surest signs your work-life balance is out of whack. And no, you're probably not just "too busy."
The bottom line: If you have gifts you can't use or interests you can't pursue at work, you need a hobby.
I Am Present For All Important Life Events
Everyone's idea of "important life events" is different. You should always be present for the moments that hold significance for you, without feeling guilty for doing so.
By this, we mean physically and mentally present. What good is it if you're physically present for an occasion but mentally concerned about project deadlines? No hurrying up to reply to an "important" work email. No thinking about work at all. If work follows you wherever you go and prevents you from living in the moment, you're not living a well-balanced life.
When you understand that every job is temporary, you begin to realize just how valuable the present moment is, no matter if you're at work, out with your friends, or on vacation with your family.
I Am Not Afraid To Say "No."
It's easy to become hyper-focused on our careers to the point that we sacrifice certain things in order to achieve career success. We don't want to disappoint anyone. We want to be the go-to person. We want to work on this and that and on anything else that could possibly help us land that raise or promotion. Consequently, every time somebody asks us to do something at work, our default answer is always "yes."
This kind of habit and mentality is not healthy. Your time is just as valuable as everyone else's. You only have so much energy to devote to certain tasks during the day, and if you keep saying "yes" to things for other people, how much of your life is left for you?
The secret to achieving work-life balance is setting personal boundaries. Lots of people in your life will pull you in different directions, but if you set boundaries, you can ask yourself if something fits into those boundaries—and if it doesn't, you're then empowered to say "no."
Everyone should learn to set personal boundaries. It gets you into the habit of asking yourself, "Is this really important?" It's a question that helps you get real clear on what your goals are, and what's a priority for you.
Work-life balance today means you can say "yes" to all three of these statements. If you can't answer confidently, it may be time to take a closer look at your career and figure out where things are unbalanced.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.