“I just want to run away from it all!” Jenny remembered saying to herself as she drove home from work. After relaying bad news to two of her patients, a lunch break that was anything but, a pile of forms to complete, and a phone call from her son’s school saying he was in trouble—again, she had had it. As she sat through several red lights, she imagined herself arriving home to starving children, fixing a casserole, kissing the kids good night, washing the dishes, and packing her bags to the Bahamas, Spain, the hotel down the road, anywhere. So long work! I’ll miss you children! I wish you luck, my dear, sweet husband.
Jenny is like most professionals I know—women and men alike: busy, ragged, and torn in several directions. We want it all—our careers, our families, our lifestyle. Yet time is not our friend. There never seems to be enough.
But what if time were our friend
—the driving force that makes us prioritize? Inherently, we know that time is our most treasured resource. The sense that the clock is ticking away motivates us to hug our kids, rub our spouse’s shoulders, laugh with friends, and work hard.
Work hard—that’s the kicker, because we are torn between work and our other life. However, we can reduce our stress and have an abundant, joyful life if we strive for balance.
Inquire about Your Work Options.
Check with your employer to see if other options exist, such as telecommuting, job sharing, flex hours, or a compressed workweek. Even if those options don’t exist, create a proposal that lists benefits to the company. You can’t receive if you don’t ask.
As a professional executive leadership coach, I work with clients who are so driven to succeed that they often take work home with them. Don’t let your relationships, your health, and your sense of well being suffer. Leave work at work. Turn off your cell phone. Set a time for your last email check of the evening and stick with it. If that’s not possible, set boundaries you can commit to, so you can enjoy a family walk or a weekly board game. Wouldn’t you like to linger over conversation at the dinner table? Engage in tickle fights?
Make a List.
Finish this sentence: “If I achieved better work-life balance, I would….” Would you take tango lessons? Serve at a soup kitchen? Make a list of the things you would do, and then schedule them on the calendar, just as you would a doctor appointment. Do it now. Don’t wait, or life will happen. It always does.
Give It the Thirty-Day Test:
Ask yourself, “If I received the devastating news that I only had thirty days left to live, what would my life look like?” If you choose how to spend your time wisely through this lens, your sense of balance will improve. Life is about priorities. Do only what’s necessary. Step off the committee if you must. Cut back on your kids’ sports. Let others pick up the slack. Simplify and thrive.
Rest, Reflect, Rejuvenate.
Are you in desperate need of a few days off? We all are! You were never meant to be a superhero, so stop acting like one. The world will not end if you stop to enjoy the beauty around you. So let’s take our own advice and meet our need for quiet, solitude, reflection, rest, and play. We will then be healthier and better able to meet the needs of those we love and serve.
Work-life balance is no accident. So I challenge you to set aside a few hours this week to create a plan you can implement successfully. Ahhhhh. Now doesn’t that feel better already?
What about you, reader? What strategies do you employ for work-life balance? Put your comments below.