Updated: Jul 30, 2022
There's a few things that are having a greater impact on the individuals sense of work life balance these days but two really obvious ones are our growing reliance on technology to help us do our work and the more recent phenomena of working from home. Neither of these two factors seem to be going away anytime soon so we must learn to adapt ourselves and master them to make it work for us and our work life balance.
What is work life balance?
In life, career and leadership coaching and counselling sessions I refer to work life balance in a number of ways to help my clients feel fulfilment in the different contexts of their lives. The life balance wheel is a classic life coaching tool to help you get an overarching view of your work life balance and the areas that are out of balance. Feeling fulfilled comes from managing your energy well, understanding your values and strengths, having a sense of purpose and agency over what you're focusing on and creating and why. The result of not having any sense of work life balance is damaging to your identity and wellbeing and can quickly turn into chronic stress, exhaustion & at worst total burn out. A lack of work life balance can also lead to physical and mental illness and relationship problems.
A recent article in The Conservation also talked about work life balance with the idea the pandemic has made us question what truly matters to us more and the balance is about feeling satisfied and on purpose. The "Great Resignation" is a phenomena that is happening all around the world where professionals are looking more deeply at why they work. The article highlights that happiness derived from work life balance is not just about doing pleasurable work that makes you feel positive. In fact a more sustaining approach to work life balance might look like working to your optimal potential; the intersection between challenging tasks meeting your professional capability is your peak performance.
Before deciding to change jobs or careers completely in search of a pathway that connects to your purpose which is another huge focus of my work with clients, there's a few things you can do to get an immediate sense of work life balance back in order. You will need to firstly work on getting out of the surviving mindset which is reactive in a fight/flight/freeze mode to be able to truly use your executive brain functioning skills. Todays blog is going to share some tips to help help you achieve enough of a balance to help you feel regulated and able to explore more deeply what purposeful work life balance might look like for you.
Personal and Professional Life Coaching Strategies For Work Life Balance:
Listen to your body. Understand your energy peaks and troughs and respond by doing what you need to do to resource your motivation energy. This will look different for everyone but an MBSR activity I often facilitate with clients is all about identifying what activities nourish and deplete your energy on a daily basis. This can help you create daily habits and rituals that give you an optimal flow. You will not reach your peak performance without this step being mastered.
Prioritise your time. Limit time wasting activities and people by understanding what is most important to you and what you value. It's really important to get good at boundary setting, saying no and not being a people pleaser. You will need to make some rules to manage this so you don't have rely on how you feel on the day and develop a habit that works when the going gets tough. You want to focus most your time on high priority tasks and people.
Take personal time. When issues arise in your personal life take the time to address them even if it seems tempting to avoid them. Avoiding personal issues will only perpetuate the problem and make them harder to deal with in the future. Personal health, family, parenting and issues in your personal relationship need your attention and you whole life will be better served by attending to them with the time and energy they deserve.
Unplug from technology. Setting up realistic work hours is so important but more so is sticking to them in a technological world where everyone is always connected gets tricky. Every app on your smart phone has a switch that allows you to log off from notifications and make your settings 'away' so that you do not feel tempted to do work outside the work hours you set. By doing this act of setting up technology boundaries you also let the users on the other end of the technology know this matters to you which gives them permission to do the same. Good use of technology is meant to make our lives easier not harder.
Play to your strengths. Don't try and be everything to everyone because there is only one of you and you don't want to spread yourself too thin. In life coaching sessions we do a strengths assessment to help you identify your top 5 character strengths so you can align your high priority tasks with the things you love doing. Delegating and outsourcing the other tasks is really important to developing self-leadership and not wasting your precious time. If you match up those other tasks to other people strengths you'll be well on your way to developing good leadership skills.
Forget about perfectionism. Leadership and perfectionism is a double edged sword. What might have served you initially in setting yourself up and establishing your work life can easily become a burden. Striving for perfectionism into work life maturity you will be faced with increasing complexity and responsibility. With expanded demands, perfectionism is no longer realistic so it's important to be aware when you orienting from perfectionism and try to adjust to a more realistic approach by taking small steps. Perfectionisms leads to psychological and social problems and even burnout if left unchecked but some healthy self compassion can help you come back from that edge. You can still do excellent work without holding yourself accountable to perfect outcomes and never actually reaching them.
Work life balance can mean different things to different people but these tips and approaches are the most common ones that arise in life coaching sessions. It's not easy work resetting your life and making important changes to get the right work life balance especially when it's been out of whack for while and you identify being a work-a-holic. Having work life balance can be a sustaining approach that can yield high rewards and fulfilment both personally and professionally. My individual sessions can support you through this process and get you well on the way. Whether changing careers, resolving issues in your personal life or just creating new daily rituals to balance your energy leadership and life coaching can help you get started.