The endless search for work-life balance continues to elude many struggling professionals. Your day begins with 24 hours of opportunity, but take into account 8.5 hours for a good night’s sleep and your average working day, this is no longer true. In fact, when many of us also commute for up to 2 hours each day it can come as no surprise we find it difficult to maintain other commitments.
An online search on the debate has conflicting messages, with many experts believing personal and professional life should be segregated, and others contending the two need to meld together. The shocking truth behind discovering a balance is actually rather simple.
It is important to acknowledge that work and life cannot be measured – they aren’t neat time slots in an excel spreadsheet. In order to moderate daily life successfully, we need to prioritize our passions and ultimately shift our focus.
The Truth Behind Work-Life Balance
1. Sometimes There Won’t Be Balance
The first step toward a better work-life balance is to accept that things aren’t that black and white. The more you try to separate your daily life into strictly work or leisure, the harder this will be to achieve. There will be days when you need to focus on work and attempting to override this with leisure time could skyrocket your stress levels.
Similarly, there will be times when your family needs you at home, and that pile of papers on your desk will have to wait. Creating a good work-life balance isn’t about maintaining a clear 50/50 all the time, but rather knowing what will keep you in a calm, focused headspace and how to tailor your day to suit this.
2. Prioritize The Present
In a month’s time, a lot can happen. You could meet the love of your life or be fired from your job. It is crucial to not look too far ahead when deciding on your focus. Not only is tomorrow impossible to accurately predict, but it distracts from the now.
This isn’t to say that planning for the future is an unwise decision. It is, however, important to know that not everything will happen the way you want it to. Work-life balance relies on any number of variables, from the amount of last-minute tasks that need to be done to when exactly you’d like to join your colleagues for a laugh at happy hour. All of this will change day-to-day, and prioritizing the present will lead to a more productive, healthy and fulfilling life.
If you enjoy what you do, then it’s true that you will never work a day in your life. When a job is motivating and fulfilling, finding balance will come naturally. Of course, finding a role that meets your interests and passions can be a challenging endeavor.
It requires a good understanding of personal ambition and no small amount of courage to go against the grain and with your gut feeling. Ask any freelancer, CEO or small business owner how they manage to strike a balance and their answer will often include the phrase ‘I love my job.’
Stepping back from the workplace to reevaluate your situation is a great opportunity to see what else is out there, with options like choosing to travel abroad, taking an online course or doing in volunteer work.
4. Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness
An income will buy you a house, but not necessarily the family to fill it. It could buy you an easel or a fancy camera, but not the time to practice. These are the hard truths that money-driven, madly-ambitious professionals must face. In a worldwide trend that is seeing people spend more time at their desk climbing the corporate ladder, the ultimate solution is to understand the true value of money.
Of course, drive and a passion to succeed are great attributes. They do, however, need to be countered with a healthy state of mind. This means that sometimes choosing a low-income, a high-satisfaction job can pay off in the long-term. The real secret behind establishing a happy balance is to view work and life as two different focuses, rather than a conflict of interest.