With the huge demands of our personal and professional lives, workers these days struggle a lot with striking the appropriate balance between their work and their lives. Many people experience burn-out and fatigue, and if you visit your doctor with complaints about a fever or malaise, their first question will be “where do you work?” or “what do you for a living?”.
The doctors strongly believe that there is a strong correlation between the work you do, the stress it brings and the state of your health. While they may be right in certain respects, a broader view of the challenge will reveal that the real issue lies not in the work that you do, or the “stress” that comes with your work, but it is more about the choices that you make regarding your work and life, and how you respond to these “stresses”.
Here are some principles that can guide you towards a better work-life balance:
#1: Change Your Response To Stress:
Stress is a choice. The truth is, hard or complex work doesn’t create stress, it is your response to it usually through worrying, anxiety and fear that causes stress. Choose to respond appropriately to stressful situations by sharing it with others, helping others through their own stresses and focusing on “solutions” rather than the ‘problems”.
#2: Manage Time and Energy:
Beyond being better at managing your time and priorities, focus on managing your energy – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. The better managed you are in these four domains, the better your body will be able to cope with the excessive demands from your work and life.
Take time to deal with issues one after the other, rather than trying to go headlong into solving many issues at the same time. Compartmentalize the pressures you face and deal them one after the other.
#4: Integrate Work and Life:
Look for creative ways to integrate your work and life. They don’t have to be two parallel things that never meet. For example, build better relationships with the people at work, and invite them into your personal life. Socialize with your colleagues after work and get to know their families too.
#5: Make your Passion your Work:
One of the biggest reasons why people feel “stressed” about their work is that the work they do is not aligned with their interests and talents – they are square pegs desperately trying to fit into round holes and are not actively doing something to get better at their jobs and become more passionate about what they do. When you are intrinsically motivated and passionate about your work you will thoroughly enjoy it, no matter how demanding it is. Where your job only represents a pay cheque, then it will seem like drudgery, and will be a source of significant stress.
I believe that hard work doesn’t kill, rather it is worrying and being “stressed” about the work that you do that kills. Stress is a choice, and to create a better work-life balance, you should learn to: change your response to stress; manage your energy; compartmentalize; integrate your work and life; and make your passion your work.