Claim Work/Life Balance During the Great Resignation
If you’ve ever thought, there’s got to be more to life than this; if you’ve ever felt guilty for wanting unscheduled time or to try something wildly different; if you’ve ever looked at your children and wondered what you’re missing; or if you’ve ever run the numbers and faced that no matter how hard you work, you aren’t ever going to get ahead, this is for you. Here are my 6 steps to achieving life balance.
Work/Life Balance isn’t Balanced.
It’s the worst name ever. Ok, maybe not ever. Global warming is the worst name. People just can’t associate looming disaster with a warm cozy feeling. And people can’t aspire to a life that’s equal parts work and life either.
Whether working from home during the pandemic was terrific for you, isolating for you, or you didn’t get to at all, there is no denying that how we collectively think about work — where we work, when we work, how we work, and the increasing blurriness between work and life — has shifted.
There’s never been a better time to do it your way, and millions of people know it. That’s why the Great Resignation is a global movement, but here’s what you don’t know. Many people, especially those running companies, offer promises that sound like flexibility and remote options that are too good to be true.
And even though they are calling it something new, it’s the same old thing, except now, they are putting too much on the shoulders of those who stayed and offering incentives that they could have offered, should have provided, decades ago to attract and retain employees.
They still don’t get it — they wonder if remote work is a fad (it’s not, remote jobs get seven times as many applicants as location-based jobs), so it’s up to you.
If you continue to wait it out, hold your breath, or bide your time, know that you’re missing an opportunity to create everything you say you want.
No one is going to hand it to you. Today, you can decide how you want to experience life going forward, and then it’s as easy as mapping out a plan that aligns with your decision.
We are going on year three of this tidal wave, YEAR THREE, so it has to be said: You are the steward of your career. It’s up to you to know when you are ready for more or when to back off, if you are on a path to your dream job or a path to burnout. You are the only one who can claim what you truly want.
Unless you plan to be the Queen of Multitasking or the King of More and spend decades of your career doing everything, all the time, for everybody, and never get traction on what you really want, then you’ve got to create some distance between who you are and what you do.
Step 1: Decide what work/life balance means to you.
Determine if you are still willing to trade work for life or life for work. If so, what’s that equation look like? Is it 50/50 or 30/70 or how much is work and how much is life, and why did you pick those numbers?
And if you aren’t willing to make that trade anymore, what are the implications of that decision? Does it mean finding work that feels less like work? Does it mean deprioritizing work and figuring out a way to earn more money in other ways? Does it mean cutting expenses, making an impact outside of your work, pivoting, or what?
The more you know, the more you’ll recognize opportunities and make decisions in alignment with where you want to end up. You can’t orchestrate everything, but if you don’t know where you are going, there’s no chance you’ll get there.
Step 2: Evaluate your stress level.
Most Americans say their jobs are their #1 source of stress. Job stress can be caused by the environment, the culture, the relationships, the management, the bureaucracy, or the work itself. Lack of boundaries, lack of respect, or lack of achievable outcomes can also be stressful.
Until you prioritize your wellbeing, you’re likely to be stressed out. That can mean addressing and solving problems, removing yourself from unhealthy situations, getting support, finding healthier alternatives, or reframing how you see the situation.
Time management is rarely the issue, but it’s often the default solution. Of course, you can be more productive, but at the end of the day, even if you track, manage, and optimize every minute but still hate your work, feel unsafe or marginalized, disrespected and underappreciated, the stress is unlikely to subside.
Step 3: Examine your self image.
We all feel like rockstars when we knock it out of the park — whether that’s successfully delivering a big presentation, landing a key client, getting a promotion, or a big fat bonus. But it doesn’t change how we see ourselves — It’s a moment in time to celebrate.
On the flip side, if the thing you do most of your time makes you feel like shit, that’s an undeniable reason to rethink work/life balance. You might not be at that point, so here’s a quick gut check.
Describe your job and notice what happens in your body. Do you shrink back or adopt a power pose? Do you get uncomfortable and tense, or does a wave of pride and expansiveness wash over you? Are you angry or excited when you think about what’s coming? Do you feel tired to your bones? Not just exhausted, but defeated from the politics, worn out from pretending, losing your spark from faking it?
You may not have thought about your job in this way, or maybe you haven’t connected the negativity in your life to your work, but if your work is causing you to question other areas of your life, it’s a clue.
So is feeling like you can’t be yourself at work, that you are only allowed to show up one way or must hide parts of who you are. You don’t want to wait to make a change until you barely recognize yourself.
Step 4: Discover where you want to be.
One of the hardest parts of work/life balance is in our minds. Sure, salary, benefits, the work itself, location, logistics matter. For example, if you have to be somewhere, at a place to do your job, it might mean commuting and scheduling, childcare, or transportation considerations.
But logistics are basic problems. A bigger challenge is being present in your mind. If you’re feeling torn between your family and your work, feeling conflicted about how you spend your time, feeling like you have to be on 24/7/365, like you are letting others or down, feeling like your work doesn’t showcase your strengths, like you have no authority to make decisions, or you constantly have to choose something you don’t want in favor of what you do want, those feelings compound.
The good news is mindfulness practices will help. However, if there’s too much disconnect between your job and what you want for your life, mindfulness may not be a long-term solution.
Step 5: Define success on your terms.
If career success is important to you and you see your job, not just as a means to make money, but a way to achieve at the highest levels, to have a big impact, to create a legacy, to explore the world, to connect and collaborate meaningfully, or make a difference, you can’t be a robot. Your plan has to be sustainable — it’s the only way.
Work/life balance is an opportunity to enjoy the journey of becoming who you are meant to be. The balance comes from doing work that you enjoy now while building a better future: No shortage of opportunities or inspiration.
Step 6: Prioritize what’s important.
Putting yourself first, prioritizing your wellbeing, or choosing your family and a career used to be at odds with being an employee. Now we know, through research, through experience, through cautionary tales, that prioritizing what’s important, without feeling guilty, is not only the way to move beyond transactional exchanges but to see others as people too and give them room and respect to show up fully as well.
We all have a lot on our plates, but that doesn’t have to mean compartmentalizing our lives or working around the clock. Well-rounded employees are better employees. Well-rounded people make the world better.
Working too much steals time from those you love and prevents deeper relationships that don’t just damage the person working around the clock; the ripple is felt far and wide in the family, marriage, school, community, and next generation, and so on.
Boundaries are part of that. Seeking fulfillment is part of that. Choosing work that means something to you is part of it. Letting go of old stereotypes and power structures helps too.
Balance is about feeling good about yourself and your choices, creating happiness for yourself and others, and finding meaning.
If where you’re at is never going to allow the time, money, space, or opportunity for those things, why stay?
The whole world is collectively realizing that work, no matter how good or bad, is just work, and life is so much more meaningful and precious. So now that you know, what will you do next?
Work/life balance is an opportunity to enjoy the journey of becoming who you are meant to be.
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