It’s a common question I get asked often, and something most people deep down are searching for and desire. There’s plenty of articles out there about ‘work-life balance’ and how to achieve it, however if it were that simple, then why isn’t everyone achieving it?
In today’s setting more often it’s not necessarily our job’s, however it’s our constant appendage to modern technology and the ease of which that technology is accessible at all hours. This then snow balls and prevents any work-life balance from being achieved. It’s a subconscious thing, where, most of us use our phones for social interaction, during down time, but it also allows us to ‘check our email’ to ‘get ahead’ well and truly past work hours. There is a difference between being busy in the 21st century as opposed to being ‘on’ 24 x 7. While modern technology has a lot to answer for, there are other factors as corporates strive to increase profits, these include additional responsibilities with less resources, and the pressure to perform to achieve promotion. It can be tempting to be a 24 x 7 warrior living on the mantra of 3 a.m. emails and 20 hour days, seven days a week work ethic as a badge of honor. But let’s be realistic, what’s a promotion worth if your family hate you, your health suffers, and the promotion leads too an even greater workload and unhappiness?
Getting through this can be tough, particularly if you are living to the 3am email 20 hour days, seven days a week work ethic as a badge of honor. Changing your routine can be difficult, and you may need some personal coaching to help get this sorted, but if you don’t have the time or resources I want to offer you some helpful hints.
1. Remember what’s important.
Be grounded and alway be aware of your priorities with tangible reminders. These will be different for all of us. It might mean a picture of your partner or kids on your desk to remind you to be home for dinner, or an inspirational quote you hang on your wall from your favorite author. By having a constant reminder of what’s truly important to you, will allow perspective.
2. Take your holidays/vacation.
There’s an alarming trend in Western culture where an increasing number of employees don’t use all their holidays/leave. I get it. You might be saving it for a big holiday or special occasion, and sometimes taking time off can feel like it adds more stress and work to life. But holidays are important opportunities to recharge and spend quality time with loved ones. The time away will also help you reflect on work, and your relationships leading to new ideas on how to get things down and becoming more productive during work times, and just how important the relationships with those close to you truly are.
3. Set boundaries.
As I alluded to earlier, in the age of emails and smartphones, the line between work and home life can be a blurry one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be if you take strictly enforced rules and discipline to keep work texts away from the dinner table or an upcoming presentation from encroaching on trivia night. Carve out regular gadget-free times and stick to them.
4. Be grounded
Whether it’s stressing about an urgent deadline or brooding about an argument you had with a co-worker or client, it’s easy to live in your head instead of being present in the moment. Take time every couple hours to focus on your breathing or to make mental note of five things you can hear, smell, or see in your immediate surroundings. Ground yourself in the moment to appreciate the little things around you. Better yet, try and get out of the office and grab a coffee or some fresh air while noting five things you can hear smell or see in your immediate surrounds.
5. Switch off the TV.
Balance isn’t always a tension between work and home. It’s also about how we spend our leisure time. Don’t let the world pass you by as you watch re-runs of The Simpsons. Have and enforce screen-free nights and get outside, or spend quality time with friends and family. Nobody on their deathbed ever wished they spent more time in front of the TV.
6. Choose fear over regret.
This one may seem odd, but when confronted with a choice between fear and regret, always choose fear. Yes, that white water rafting trip seems terrifying. But if I don’t go, will I regret it? Yes? Then grab the paddle. Will I kick myself for not asking that woman out? Yes? Time to steel those nerves and take a chance. As the saying goes, fear is momentary, regrets are forever. Choose to face fear.
7. Let go of grudges.
This one can be hard, but the most powerful. Life’s too short to hang onto grudges. As Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Don’t get burned, and stop yourself from enjoying happiness. Many people live with regret of not mending fences with a loved one while they had the chance. If you’re brave, extend an olive branch with an email or coffee invitation.
8. Find time for hobbies.
This is important. If you always wanted to write a book or travel around Australia? Don’t wait until retirement. Start now. Find an activity or hobby that lights you up, and just do it for you and nurture it. No agenda. No purpose beyond having fun. Give yourself permission to engage in a fulfilling pastime.
9. Be clear.
Spend more time with my family and friends. Try and live a a healthier lifestyle. Achieve better work-life balance. Don’t be satisfied with vague goals, be specific and get down to the nuts and bolts of your ambitions with clear, actionable plans.
Thursday—movie night with the kids; Monday, Wednesday, Friday— exercise (swim, bike, run); Be specific. Make a list of activities and add them to your calendar, and make them a priority that can’t be compromised on.
10. Have fun & create your happiness.
As the late great Dr. Seuss penned, “If you never have, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
Start a mini social club with a few friends where you try something new every week. Send out a list of ideas, vote on a favourite, get together, and do it! Take a salsa class, learn to cook Italian, go camping—the possibilities are endless.
By all means plan and hope for a bright and awesome future. But don’t forget to smell the roses and embrace life along the way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Aaron Tenabel is the owner and founder of Stride Life Coaching. An ex professional swimmer and elite coach, Aaron now uses those experiences and skills to specialise coaching individuals wanting to improve their health, achieve work life balance, and find greater purpose, fulfilment and authenticity in their career. Aaron also specialises in working with professional athletes, wanting to find passions outside their chosen sport, and help develop, empower and plan for their life post career.