Last week I talked about the issues with work~life balance and how that imbalance is unhealthy for us. This week I am going to give you some tips on how to create that balance for yourself.
Make creating balance a priority. If you do not set balance as a priority you will easily fall back into familiar patterns and let your work take over your life. There are a few ways you can do this:
Set a schedule to help yourself build a new habit. Make a weekly schedule every Sunday for the upcoming week. Schedule in your work time and then schedule in the rest of life. Put in hobbies, family time, you time and anything else that you want to include outside of work. By scheduling it, you are committing to doing it, and showing how important it is to you.
Make a priority list. Write a list of all the things that you want to do, all the things that you have put off because there are “not enough hours in the day”, and start working on the list. Commit to yourself to do at least 5 things on the list a week. Make sure your list is not just a list of chores but fun things too!
When you leave work, clock your mind out too! Practice mindfulness and be aware when you are thinking about work out of work time, and gently bring your mind back to the activity at hand. Whatever you are doing stay in the present with your attention focused on the activity. Even if that is just watching TV, do it wholeheartedly! This will also be a good time to notice how often your thoughts are straying to work. If you find you are starting to think about work, remind yourself that you want balance; bring your thoughts back to the present activity. If something really important comes to mind and you are unable to refocus yourself, then write yourself a note to look at tomorrow on work time, then go back to the present activity.
Start Re-Defining Yourself Outside of your Career.
Do some soul searching and look at all the things you are outside of your career. What other parts of you are there in the shadows that are not part of “work” you. This is a great time to look at hobbies that interest you, social groups, or classes that spark your curiosity. Do things that have nothing to do with “work” you. For example in my ‘spare’ time I used to read books on psychology, or social programs that had to do with “work” me. Now my hobby is my photography which has nothing to do with coaching, but lights my soul up.
Also, try playing with your communication, when people ask you what you do? Try answering with something other than work or at the very least put work last. Instead of I am a social worker, nurse, accountant, executive, lawyer etc, try answering with “I am a mother, daughter, wife, photographer, artist, musician (or other hobby), then end the sentence with “and a social worker, nurse, accountant, executive, lawyer etc. This may feel really hard and you may get some looks. By changing our language, we change the message we send to ourselves, this simple step helps you realize you are more than your career. You have many roles start highlighting some of those!
This can be challenging, a lot of us love our jobs, but the thing is we are more than that one role. We need to start defining ourselves as all of who we are, not just our careers. I know since I have found balance and made these changes I feel more complete. I no longer define myself by my career and that feels amazing!
I completely understand that many of you have important jobs and when you are reading this you might be skeptical, you might be saying “my career is important”, “I need my job to live” and those are probably true, but YOU are also important. Your job may come and go, if you restrict the definition of who you are to your career, then you are missing out on all the other wonderful aspects that are a part of you, too! Not to mention if there comes a time when you want to make changes, if you have completely defined yourself by your career then you won’t be able to see beyond that; to other possibilities and opportunities. We are all constantly growing, and life is ever changing we need to be able to be all of who we are not just a single aspect!