Many people, especially solopreneurs, struggle with work-life balance.
They find it hard to cope with the demands of both work and non-working life. It’s a situation that leads to burnout, unhealthy coping strategies, sleepless nights and weary days, resentment toward family and inability to focus on work.
Work-life balance is more than a luxury. It’s necessary for a healthy, productive, and fulfilled life.
The importance of work-life balance is in building contentment and satisfaction into every aspect of your life.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
The “right” work-life balance is different for everybody. It depends on your work and what it means to you, how well your work integrates into your daily life, and the importance of your out-of-work activities to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Being out of balance happens, no matter who you are or what you do. Your life may go out of balance when an emergency occurs or a big opportunity pops up. Health changes or changes in your life situation will require you to update your balance, as you figure out a new way of living.
Work-life balance strategies involve finding your balance and correcting it when you notice that it’s going out of whack. Imagine a tightrope walker carrying the long pole high above the audience in the big top. Through practice, the performer has found her balance, and she constantly manages the weight on both sides of the pole through small adjustments as she slides across the wire.
The key to healthy work-life balance is in making decisions about what is important, what invigorates your life, and how to get help to meet commitments that challenge your management of time and energy.
It may be hard to develop and maintain your ideal work-life balance, but it’s worth the effort because of the rich work-life balance benefits.
Benefit 1: Lower Stress
One of the main causes of falling out of work-life balance is saying yes to too many demands on both sides of the tightrope walker’s pole.
If your balance is work and family, maybe you find yourself volunteering for too many committees or taking on too many extra work assignments. That can lead to stress and resentment against either or both sides of the balance. Stress causes strain on your heart, blood pressure, digestion, and every body system. When your health goes down, you find yourself accomplishing less, not more, and the overcommitments spiral into greater problems.
When you make realistic decisions about what you can do with your life, you feel more successful, with less of a constant feeling of failure. The result is that you accomplish what you set out to do.
Benefit 2: Healthier Life
Having unrealistic expectations about what you can or “should” accomplish in your life can lead to unhealthy habits, from overeating to addictions, as you deal with your feelings of failure by hiding from them.
Overly optimistic beliefs about what you “should” accomplish can also cause you to leave out priorities like exercise and taking the time and effort to eat healthy meals. Again, it begins a downward spiral of lower energy leading to lower productivity, to demanding more from yourself to catch up, to paying less attention to living a healthy life. The life you want goes down the drain.
When you include rational self-care in your work-life balance strategies, you’re more productive, and you have more enjoyment in the life you have chosen.
Benefit 3: Creative Solutions to Problems
There’s wisdom in the old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Brain scientist Barbara Oakley has identified the value of “focused and diffuse learning.”
When you’re trying to do something new, whether it’s learning a language or solving a problem, it takes two kinds of thinking — focused and diffuse. Focused thinking is pointed directly at the problem. Diffuse learning happens when your mind is turned elsewhere — sleeping, for example, or doing something entirely different. The most successful learning and problem-solving happens when focused and diffuse thinking alternate.
Everybody will find problems and challenges on both sides of the work-life balance. It’s good to work at finding a solution, but it’s also good to look away from it. Take a walk, take a nap, handle something else for a while. Dealing with a toddler may give you insight into the behavior of your challenging client. Dealing with a client problem may help you understand what your significant other really needs from you.
People who are tempted to spend their entire lives on one thing only risk making themselves less competent at that one thing. Realistic work-life balance strategies will enrich both sides of the equation and give you more happiness and fulfillment in the totality of your life.
Bringing Work-Life Balance into Your Life
Finding the right work-life balance for you will make your life better. But it’s not easy. You’re fighting against long-established habits and dealing with demands of people who don’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish in your whole life (and who may not even care).
It’s up to you to figure out what’s important, stake out a claim to it, preserve the territory from time-predators outside and inside yourself. And then you must proactively adjust the balance every day to deal with unexpected needs and opportunities.
If that seems like a challenge, a life and business coach can help. We’ll start by understanding your core values so that you’ll know your style of thinking, problem-solving, and learning. Then I’ll help you develop a plan for your life and business that uses your strengths and helps you build a life that works for you.
You can find and build your work-life balance, given enough time and energy. Many people spend months or years of frustration. Or you can get your life on track in a few weeks, by finding a guide who can ask the right questions, give you judgment-free feedback, and help you clarify what you need and want from the life you’re building.
How do you find a balance between your work and your life? Share below!