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So what is the work-life balance?
The work-life balance has become one of the most searched terms among working professionals as we all try to improve how we spend our time in favor of a better balance. This article will examine what exactly this ‘balance’ is and how you, too, can aspire to achieve this proclaimed and improved way of life and work.
What is the work-life balance?
One of the biggest challenges of our time has to be the over-demanding and increasing stresses of work and career. As a nation, we have forgone a great many social and family activities and fun times to build a career and be able to afford a specific lifestyle. Generally, this has been a lifestyle that has been incredibly concerned with achieving and having, rather than with just being. The recent coronavirus pandemic has brought back to the fore the idea or notion of being able to create a more equitable balance between work and fun (family time, entertainment, and non-work activities and hobbies).
This is indeed a tricky process in that the work-life balance will be different for everyone and, furthermore, will also differ based on the time in our lives that we find ourselves in. For example, being at the beginning of your career may require a balance skewed in favor of work until you have established yourself and found a clear career path. Then, as you progress and become more secure in your role and work, there should and can be the expectation of more flexibility and increased family time. Yet the prevailing difficulty is that this balance will not be the same for all, and as such, it is not something that you can simply adopt or read and implement. There are, however, certain expected aspects that this balance should include:
- Making an impact at work and being the best you can be. Without affecting your mental health and wellbeing, you need to strive to be the best you can be in the role that you do.
- Having a positive impact on the lives of family members is a critical aspect of a good work-life balance.
- Living in the now and being present is important and will be the only way that you will be able to achieve the goals stated herein.
- Setting clear boundaries and knowing what it is that you’re prepared to do, and allowing others to know this too will go a long way to freeing up additional time for you and yours.
- Having priorities. You must know what’s important, or else it will be impossible to set any kind of balance and then maintain this.
- Letting go. Understand that you can’t do it all or have it all. Just let go and live, trying to be as happy as you can with what you have.
The only way to achieve such a balance is to be able to clearly determine what is important to you and yours. Once this is determined, it will be necessary to plot and plan a way of life that allows you to focus on the important things in life. This is totally up to you; if money is important, then be honest and go out there and spend your time getting it. And the same goes for family and friendships or hobbies and activities. The only person who can determine your work-life balance will be you.
Why is this so important?
Having time to refresh and recuperate is essential, and in fact, it was found that those high-level business executives who spent time with friends and family and had genuine long-term relationships and activities outside of work were often the most productive and phenomenally successful. So, although an improved work-life balance will definitely do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing, it may also very well allow you to be more productive, more creative, and just overall a better resource at work.
A good life balance will mean less stress
Stress in the workplace has been noted as one of the main causes of death in the USA. The biggest means of reducing such stress in the workplace is to make a conscious choice not to take on too much. Most of us feel that there is no choice and that to be a good employee, we never say no. It’s the converse that is truer, and the employee who knows where their limits are will often produce better work and be less stressed. Choose to have a better balance, and you will then also be choosing to reduce the stress encountered and experienced in the workplace.
It will improve your mental health and overall wellbeing
The better balanced you are in terms of your work and home life, and the more you are able to meet the various expectations, you will find it easier to cope with the negative feelings and emotions that we all have from time to time. Having the time and space to be with friends and family, or even just with you, as well as performing adequately at work, will make for a much happier, more relaxed individual.
Better physical health
Having the space to exercise, eat better, sleep better, and improve your diet is all part of a good work-life balance, and this will go a long way to making physical improvements to your mind and body. Having a top career may see you at a desk for most of the day, and this will do severe damage to the body over the long term. Being able to understand that you need to have an ergonomically designed workspace, as well as being able to step away from this workspace as and when you need to, will go a long way to improving your physical health.
As soon as you have more time to think and to be present, you will also find the ability to be more mindful. This is about being aware of your surroundings, your feelings, and others and engendering the idea of calm and interconnectedness that can only come with a certain peace and restfulness that a more balanced work-life situation will provide for.
It will serve to improve your relationships
If you’re spending too much time at work, you aren’t spending enough time with your family. Furthermore, the time then spent with them won’t be quality time as you’ll likely be tired and exhausted. If you make family and friends, as well as work colleagues, aware that you are making work-life changes, then they too will be able to assist and understand should you require support to make these changes stick for the long term. All of this will go a long way to improving your relationships.
What an unhealthy work-life balance looks like
Knowing what you want may be the first step, and then understanding the balance that you want to create will assist you in developing the strategies and implementing the plans that will result in a great work-life balance. However, it is also important to know what to look out for in terms of being able to identify exactly what a bad work-life balance looks like.
Always feeling tired or under pressure from work for deadlines, and possibly also feeling like this at home, will result in not getting enough sleep, which then becomes a vicious cycle of no sleep, more stress, and more pressure, resulting in the inability to sleep properly.
Always trying to get things perfect. You won’t be able to, and that’s the bottom line; and although many believe that striving for perfectionism is a good workplace trait, it can lead to a vast amount of pressure and an unhealthy work-life balance, leaning very badly in either direction. Being a perfect parent, partner, or businessperson and employee is just impossible when you have a bad work-life balance, particularly for those striving for perfection.
Feeling irritable and like you need to be doing something else or be somewhere else as soon as you start to relax, or conversely, as soon as you settle down to complete a piece of work, is a sure-fire sign that your work balance is out of whack.
Poor self-care. As soon as you notice that you haven’t done your makeup in a while or haven’t had the usual stylish haircut or trim as regularly as you would have, you need to examine your existing balance. You need to be able to spend quality time looking after yourself in order to make all the hard work worthwhile. If you’re not doing this, you may have a bit of work to do to adjust your work-life balance.
The type of careers that will help you achieve this flexibility
There is no specific career that will ensure an excellent work-life balance, as the decision to work towards such a balance will be a very personal one. However, there are known jobs that will provide for a degree of flexibility and, in so doing, be better suited to designing a cogent work-life balance around.
Nursing and health care
The nursing career is one that has been proven to be able to provide a great work-life balance. It is a noble, caring career that provides a feel-good factor, as well as having a great degree of flexibility and a variety of roles. Furthermore, with the current demand in the nursing sector for qualified nurses and the rise of online training, this sector now offers some of the best opportunities to create a work-life balance that will create a better, happier you. A great example in this regard is the online certificate for a family nurse practitioner, wherein the training will allow you to embark on a feel-good career helping others that is as flexible as you need it to be. The trick, however, is to be clear from the outset as to what you are prepared and available to do, or the current shortages in the sector could backfire and land you with too much to do.
There are always projects on the go, and if you have the skills or are prepared to learn one of the various software project management packages to allow you to project manage, you will find work easily and pretty much anywhere, keeping in mind that the balance you want will be created by selecting the right type of projects to manage. The idea will be to take on shorter pieces of work with the requisite gaps in between to spend doing anything but work. Yes, there are deadlines and a vast array of stakeholders for project managers to deal with, but projects vary, and the recent developments in software make for a streamlined and seamless process that merely needs monitoring and maintenance.
Freelance writing and editing
Again, it is the flexibility inherent in freelance writing and editing that makes it one of the top careers selected as a great means to develop a cogent life-work balance. If you have the skill already, then this will be a simple change or adjustment to make. Or you can take one of the many online courses in content development and editing, and as your skills improve, you will be able to develop this into a full-time/part-time/anytime role that will serve to support the lifestyle you want to live.
The best career for your work-life balance will be solely dependent on the particular balance that you want to create for yourself. The aim of this article has been to inform and educate you as to what this balance is and why it is so important. The list of possible jobs is not exhaustive but provides examples of those that have worked for others. Using some of the tips herein, you will now be able to start making the requisite changes to how you work and live to make yourself start enjoying it more. It’s a process that will elicit a much happier, healthier lifestyle and go a long way to also improve your attitude and perception of work and career responsibilities.