‘Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.’ (Hilary Clinton)
Do you agree with Hilary Clinton?
Are you constantly balancing work and life?
It is unsurprising that I have never coached someone who doesn’t want to achieve a ‘work-life balance’. It is a well-known fact that a good work-life balance prevents stress and burnout, reduces anxiety, and creates healthy and happy lifestyles.
However, I am sometimes challenged by people about whether a work-life balance is possible and this has occasionally made me wonder whether these individuals are right. Perhaps it is unrealistic. Perhaps this is a term that will fade in popularity when we move on to the next ‘in’ phrase. However, whatever name we associate with it, I do believe it is possible. Over 10 years of coaching individuals who are unhappy in their career has taught me that ‘work-life balance’ does impact lives and I know that when I work with someone on improving their work-life balance, they always become happier and are able to give more thought to making their career more fulfilling.
Unfortunately, Coronavirus and the ongoing changes to our lifestyle and work arrangements has made maintaining a work-life balance tricky for many people. One minute we can see friends and relatives, the next minute we can’t. Many are now facing redundancy or were about to come off furlough, only for it to be extended again. Many went back to work, now to be told to work from home again. Plans have been made and cancelled. Keeping up with changes we have no control over can be mentally exhausting and can impact the control we have over maintaining a good work-life balance leading too stress, fatigue, and a decrease in work performance.
How is your work-life balance at the moment?
I know many people have been reassessing their lives and priorities over the last few months during the pandemic. Discarding things that previously made them stressed and bringing new elements in that make them happier. If you have managed to do this, fantastic! However, if you haven’t please don’t worry, it is not easy. I really mean that. It is not easy at the best of times, let alone when there is a pandemic and the rules keep changing. When a client said to me last week that they feel like they have lost control of their work-life balance, I knew they wouldn’t be the only person who currently felt this way.
If you feel this way, why not spend a bit of time doing a little review of your life. Simply follow these points to help you:
1. Consider the following five areas of your life and grade each area on a scale of 1 to 10 as they are for you now; 1 being poor or you are unhappy with what you are doing in this area and 10 being you are fully satisfied or you happy with this area.
- Being active/health (e.g. Diet, physical activity, fitness)
- Relationships (e.g. Family, partner, parents/siblings, friends)
- Learning (e.g. Books, courses, hobbies)
- Contribution (e.g. Giving time and energy to others)
- Relaxation/being mindful (e.g. Ambitions, salary, relationships)
(If you would like to go into more detail, work out how many hours you spend on these categories in a typical week. A typical week is approximately 98 hours, allowing for seven days each of fourteen hours.)
2. For scores below 9, spend time thinking about what you can do to improve your score in that category. Think about changes you can make to your life to increase the lowest scores. Remember, you do not need to make big changes. Focus on one category at a time and take small steps towards improving your score.
Remember, once you have started the process of restoring the balance, you will start to feel happier and have more energy to eventually raise all the scores.
Whether or not it is the correct term to use, having a ‘work-life balance’ and keeping it at the forefront of our minds is really important for developing a happy and fulfilling life and career.