Hand on heart: How satisfied are you with your work-life balance? Is your job draining, leaving you little time and energy to do anything else? Was 2016 another year that rushed by without time for all those things you planned last New Year’s Eve? As a life & career coach, this is always my busiest time of year, with many people wanting to re-evaluate their lives as they start the New Year. It’s a great time to stop the hamster wheel and have a good think about what you really want from your life.
Review your job satisfaction
Is your job meaningful to you? If not, it’s time to do something about it. The less you enjoy your work, the more stressful you will find it. Imagine, on the other hand, a career that allows you to pursue whatever is most important to you in life. Can you see how this would be energising and stimulating rather than burning you out?
Define your ideal work-life balance
Consider what exactly a healthy work-life balance would be for you. How many hours would you want to work? Would you prefer to work from home or in an office – full time, part time or perhaps flexi time? And what things do you want to do outside work? Write down your answers and then think about how you can create this lifestyle – either in your current employment or elsewhere.
Know your priorities
If you had to rank the key areas in your life in order of importance – such as career, family, relationships, friends, community, wellbeing and hobbies – what would come at the very top for you? Once you know the answer, be consistent and prioritise that aspect. Don’t judge yourself for giving less attention to the other areas in your life. Be guided by your own values, not those of the people around you.
Take care of your own needs
If you don’t look after your own needs you’ll eventually burn out. How will that help the people who depend on you – either at work or at home? You risk becoming stressed, ill and grumpy, and may even come to resent the people you’re supporting. As they say on the plane, “put your own oxygen mask on first”.
Learn to say no
Learning to say “no” with confidence and no sense of guilt is one of the most effective tools in time management. We seem to have an eternal to-do list and be exposed to never-ending demands by the people around us. If you don’t set boundaries, your life can easily be swamped by the priorities of others. Every “no” that you say to something you don’t want will allow you to say “yes” to something else you do want.
Are you one of those women who believe they have to be 100% perfect in all areas of life: successful in business, a nurturing mother, supportive wife, not to mention sex bomb, yoga bunny, domestic goddess and master chef? Chasing such an unattainable fantasy is a game you’ll never win; it’s a perfect recipe for frustration, self-rejection and burn-out. Accept your very human imperfections and focus on the things you love doing most.
Plan quality time
I find that if I don’t plan for the fun stuff in my life it never happens, because I can become very immersed in my work. How about this: Take out your new 2017 calendar and block all the days when you want to go away, do something special with friends or host parties. Then define who you want to spend time with this year and how often you want to do things like having a meal out, seeing a show, going clubbing or pursuing a hobby. When you meet up with a friend, try putting the next meeting in the calendar before you part, even if that date is months away.
A work-life balance is not something that’s given to you. You need to create it. Life is too short to let it just happen – or not. So what difference will you create in 2017?
Hans Schumann, The Masterful Living® Coach, is a career & life coach and author of the book Falling in Love with your Job – How to create more excitement and fulfilment in your career, which is available to buy here. For more information, see Schumann’s website.