Four questions for better work-life balance
Work-life balance tends to rear its head as a problem when we feel under pressure, overwhelmed, tired or frustrated. Do any of these sound familiar?
"I'm working all hours at the moment, and I still can't get up to date."
"I don't have time for exercise."
"I'm really sorry I can't join you at the pub tonight, there's a report I have to finish."
"When was the last time we had a few days away?"
Work has taken over your life and you certainly don't feel balanced!
Ok, think for a moment - what if you had no work to do. How would you feel? Initially relieved, free, that lovely warm holiday feeling perhaps? Or, panicked, lost, worried about the future?
All living things need to take nourishment from the environments in which they live to continue to rebuild themselves. As humans we need more than food and water to thrive. We also have emotional needs and, if our needs are not being met, then difficulties like stress, lack of motivation and illness can occur.
Our emotional needs include:
- Security - somewhere that we feel safe - home.
- Having a sense of control over who we are and what we do.
- Feeling part of a wider community.
- Having friendship, fun, love, intimacy.
- Achieving things.
- Having a purpose/meaning in what we are doing.
- Space for privacy/being alone.
How much we need these is different for each of us, as we are all unique. I enjoy weekly "me-time" where I can curl up with a book or take a walk alone; other people may need this every day or not at all.
When we talk about "work-life balance" we are really talking about how we feel about how our needs are being met in our lives. Work as an aspect of your life might provide you with:
- A sense of security - perhaps financially and also where you work feels safe.
- Some control over your life - what you are able to do.
- Feeling part of a community/team.
- Somewhere to have fun (at least some of the time).
- A sense of status/achievement.
- A sense of meaning and purpose.
How about in your "life outside work"?
Thinking about your emotional needs, ask yourself these four questions
1. What are the costs/disadvantages of me continuing to work as I do?
2. What are the benefits/advantages of me continuing to work as I do?
3. What are the costs/disadvantages of me continuing to live as I do?
4. What are the benefits/advantages of me continuing to live as I do?
Your answers will help you understand why you feel "out of balance". If your needs are not being met through work, are they being met at home, in your relationships, within yourself?
If not, what can you do to start to redress the balance and move one step closer to feeling that your life is "in balance"?