Finding your optimal work/life balance is not about equally balancing the time you spend on your professional and personal lives. Instead, it is about finding a balance that doesn’t cause one side of your life to suffer because of the other. Beyond your work or personal life suffering, if your work/life balance is off you’re liable to find yourself quickly approaching burnout. All in all, it’s a wholly undesirable state to find yourself in, and it’s important to know the signs that your balance is off so that you can take steps towards correcting it.
Relationships are central to both your work and personal lives. Relationships help provide fulfillment and support as well as networking possibilities. So when these relationships begin to suffer, it’s a good sign that something is off balance in your life.
When it comes to your personal life, if your friendships have become purely superficial and you cannot remember the last time you had some good quality time with your best friends, that’s a good early warning sign of unbalance. When things get too hectic, it is often our social lives that go first. Along that same concept, if you find that your interaction with your family has been reduced mostly to keeping your household running with little time for quality family time, then that too is a good warning sign.
Suffering work relationships are another good sign of unbalance, especially since fostering those relationships can quickly become a low priority when you are overloaded with other work or personal obligations. Poor working relationships can affect the quality of your work as well as your future growth potential, so it’s important to not overlook this sign of unbalance.
If your attention is disproportionately focused on one side of your life, whether it be work or your personal life, you’re liable to experience stagnation on the other side.
Too much focus solely on your career means that you have less time, energy, and motivation to plan and execute changes in your personal life. Projects like remodeling your bathroom or planning a family vacation take a back burner to your career, and your personal life is made up of getting through the day to day rather than truly living your life.
Conversely, your work life can grow stagnant if you put all of your energy into your personal life. If you stay up late every single night watching tv or going out with friends, there’s a good chance that you will lack the energy to do much more than get the bare minimum work done each day. And what work you do get done may be subpar, meaning that you’re less likely to be considered for advancement opportunities.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the operative word of ‘work/life balance’ is ‘life,’ and that it’s referring to your life. If you are dedicating 100% of yourself to getting things done whether it’s expense reports for your boss or laundry for your kids and you have absolutely nothing left for the things you care about, then something is truly unbalanced. If you no longer have the time or energy to work on your hobbies or spend time doing the parts of your job that you enjoy, then everything else you do may end up feeling like it’s not worth it. It’s important that the sides of your life enable and compliment one another, leaving you well rounded and fulfilled.
Featured Image c/o Ronny Chan via Flickr