The 7 challenge areas for work/life balance
Work/life balance was first mentioned in the UK at the end of the 1970s. Obviously, since those days, a lot has happened in the professional and the personal world. Every challenge we encounter adds to pressure, pressure leads to stress, and stress leads to emotional and physical unbalance and unhappiness. So, it's important to overcome challenges, in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Listed below are the seven of the most challenging areas, which could apply either to work or life situations. Compare them with your own situation and find out what your main challenges are.
1. Unrealistic demands
The demands that work and life throw at us can easily mount up to incredible levels. Unreasonable demands at work, arrangements that are eating into personal time, such as weekend meetings, and technology overload are mentioned as adding a lot of pressure. Demands of personal life are adding pressure to work, as time is required to accommodate family or friends, and is eating into work time.
Think of family members with intensive schedules, impacting on yours (the mum that needs to ferry the athlete to extra training sessions or matches, or the partner that decides to do an evening course), or when expectations are set by others (like a monthly visit to parents). Meeting too many demands is a threat to a healthy balance.
How to deal with unrealistic demands
It is important to be clear about what you want from work and life. Are the demands justified in the light of what you want? For every challenge, answer the following questions:
- What do I gain from doing it?
- What is the price I pay?
- Who else gains from it?
- Who else pays a price?
This gives you a good structure to make a choice.
2. Lack of control
A lack of control can create pressure, as it leaves you feeling like you're ‘hanging in there’, with a dark cloud above your head. It is difficult to deal with the uncontrollable workload or the insecurity of the situation of the company you work in. In personal circumstances, aspects such as illness, exams, and kid issues can feel as if all control is gone and is very stressful.
How to cope when things feel out of control
The way to respond to a lack of control is to find a different internal response. Feeling frustrated by the lack of control makes it worse. Accepting the situation for what it is, at this moment in time, won’t sap your energy and make you more efficient. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.
3. Unsupportive relationships
Unsupportive relationships at work, aversive behaviour or not getting credit can create a difficult and unproductive work environment, making people feel isolated. Unsupportive relationships at home where no one helps each other or considers other people’s pressures can create frustration and unhappiness.
How to deal with unsupportive relationships
This comes down to people management, communication and expectations:
- Are you asking for support?
- Are you clear on what support you want?
- Could it be your expectations are not realistic?
4. Lack of resources
Not enough resources (or not the right ones) really affects how life can be organised. The absence of a PA or a good babysitter are both examples of important lacks.
How to deal with a lack of resources
Take action and try to be creative. If you can’t find a PA, could you outsource part of the tasks? Alternatively, lower your standards in certain areas. Something has to give, and it shouldn’t be you.
5. Unhelpful attitude
Resilience in challenging circumstances determines how well someone is coping and finding a way forward. If the challenges you're facing are causing energy levels to be low and undermined, it can be really hard to find that resilience.
How to deal with an unhelpful attitude
One of the healthy ways of building resilience is meditation. There are plenty of short and easy ways to bring in mindfulness meditation into your day.
6. Lack of skills
Surviving and managing challenges and the personal awareness and behaviour that goes with them are professional and life skills. Lacking in certain skills? That can equal lots of stress.
How to overcome your skills shortages
When you recognise your weaknesses in certain areas, such as communication, confidence or practical skills, take action to develop skills. This will also make you feel more in control.
7. High stress levels
All the above challenges can appear in anybody’s life and will add to stress levels. Not being able to handle stress will kill any chance of a healthy work/life balance.
How to manage and reduce stress
Don’t accept stress as a fact of life. You can be very busy, without feeling stressed. Stress is a personal response and you can take control of it by learning skills that will help you to reduce stress, such as mindfulness and meditation and learning to be kinder to yourself.
Often we forget that we are powerful and that we can take charge of situations that seem to be out of our control. It takes a new way of looking at yourself, and aspects of your life and developing your knowledge and skills. Life and work are there to enjoy – not to bring you down! The choice is yours!
For more information about work/life balance, including tips on how to improve your own balance or to find out how I can support you, get in touch.