Having a good work/life balance gives us time to de-stress, socialise, build meaningful relationships, make memories and, most importantly, relax. Here we look at what work/life balance really is and how a coach can help.
For many of us, our jobs play an important part in our lives. From feeding the family and paying the bills to funding adventures and offering a sense of purpose, building a career is very much a part of our society.
But, it’s important to remember it’s only one part of our lives.
What is work/life balance?
Work/life balance is a term used to explain the idea that all of us need time for both work and play. Your work/life balance is how you organise your days, for example, how many hours you spend at work, and how much time you spend doing things you enjoy outside of work.
While the general definition is clear, in reality, it’s not quite so simple to maintain. Work/life balance will vary from person to person, depending on our lifestyles as a whole.
If you’re at the start of your career, you may be more dedicated to building skills, knowledge, career progression and having fun. As you become more settled in your career, you may notice your priorities start to shift, recognising that work isn't the only focus you want in life.
At some point, you may notice your focus shifts from work to other aspects of your life. You may have spent a long time building your career and now thoughts are turning towards more personal goals and other things that you didn't prioritise previously.
Wherever you are in your life, the overall premise is the same when it comes to work/life balance, as it’s so important to help maintain a positive state of emotional well-being.
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Why is work/life balance important?
Nowadays, pressure to perform at work is paramount and we can spend much of our lives in the workplace. Whether you’re in an office five days a week or working from home, the day may not always end when you clock off. With technology at our disposal, we’re always contactable; we can check emails on the go and send a text to a colleague at the tap of a button.
Without a good work/life balance, exhaustion, stress and burnout can show up, so it’s essential we take time to relax, unwind and enjoy other aspects of our lives.
If you’re unhappy in your role but are unable to take a break or make a career move, your work and personal life may suffer. Poor work/life balance can leave you unmotivated, short-tempered and emotional. When stress is not addressed, your emotional well-being suffers and, over time, your physical health can deteriorate.
Work is just one part of life. It may be an important part, but it is still just one part. Maintaining our health and happiness is vital - we should feed our passions, build relationships and enjoy our lives. We’re only human and we crave comfort and adventure. Maintaining a good work/life balance can ensure we’re chasing our personal dreams, but flourishing at work, too.
Is your work/life balance off?
Of course, before you can make things better, you need to understand the problem, if there is one. It may be clear to you already but, for some, it may be less obvious.
If you’re yet to pinpoint the problem but are experiencing signs of stress, or if you think you have a good work/life balance, yet people are telling you otherwise, consider keeping a diary. To get an idea of your current work/life balance, record everything you do for a couple of weeks and make a note of how long you spend doing each activity, both at work and at home. You can also record how you're feeling each day and how much sleep you’re getting.
At the end of the week, assess everything you’ve done. Highlight everything to do with work in one colour, and then highlight mealtimes, sleeping routine and ‘play’ in other colours. When you’ve coloured all the sections in, analyse if there are any patterns.
If the majority of your week is taken up with the work colour (including weekends and non-working hours), you may be lacking balance in your life. When you can see where your current priorities lie, you can start to work out where healthy changes need to be made.
Remember, we're not aiming for perfection here. Trying to achieve a 'perfect balance' at all times is unattainable. Instead, it can help to view it in a more fluid way, acknowledging that some areas of your life may take priority at certain times more than others.
With work and life becoming more intertwined (especially now more people are working from home and/or launching their own businesses), some prefer the term work/life blend instead of work/life balance. Try out both terms and see what feels good to you.
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How can coaching help?
Some people are able to recognise the problem early and manage it well. Others, however, may need a little guidance. Generally, we turn to our friends or family for support and advice but, sometimes, we benefit from professional support.
Speaking with a coach can be a great way to help you get back on track, and help you recognise and decide exactly how you would like to spend your life. While we all have to make compromises, it’s possible to organise our lives in a productive way to enable enjoyment of our time outside of work, whilst maintaining success in the workplace.
How can a coach help me achieve a better work/life balance?
For you to benefit fully from the support of a coach, you need to want to change. It takes courage and a willingness to recognise a problem and ask for help. Coaching can help you understand your feelings, recognise your goals and support you in taking the necessary steps to change your life.
With the support of a coach, you’ll be able to:
- Identify the roadblocks and problems that are currently standing in your way.
- Change counterproductive behaviours.
- Build on confidence and self-belief.
- Recognise and address job burnout.
- Set boundaries by speaking up.
- Manage stress.
- Improve your effectiveness at work, and at home.
Life is short, and ensuring you live a happy, healthy life should be a priority. A coach may be able to help you see things in a different light. Perhaps your stress has built up over time, due to lots of small things. Or, maybe one thing in particular is causing your unhappiness. Whatever the cause, a coach can help you recognise issues, and set goals to overcome them.
We need to put in the energy and passion if we want to be successful, but our lives need to deliver personally, as well as giving us what we want professionally. At times, the focus on building a career can mean we sacrifice the things that make us happy, but a coach can help you find a balance.