Fearless in 5: How to Realize a Fulfilling Work/Life Balance
As we wrap up 2021 and look towards a fresh start in 2022, it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate and re-prioritize, empowered by that invigorating new year perspective. Consider it a holiday gift to yourself; take this opportunity to pursue strategies that can even out your personal and professional life, so you have the time and energy to follow your passions. Here are five ways to achieve a healthy equilibrium in 2022 that delivers more joy, purpose and that ‘feel good fuel’ we all need to live our best lives.
#1: Don’t Pursue Balance; Focus Instead on Equilibrium. This insightful Harvard Business Review piece recognizes work/life balance as a cycle, not an achievement. When you pursue an evenly-weighted "balance," 99.9% of the time that unrealistic ideal will leave you feeling like a failure. Regardless of our best efforts, sometimes work will dominate, and sometimes our personal lives will. That’s why we like the concept of striving for equilibrium--Merriam Webster defines equilibrium as "a state of adjustment between opposing or divergent influences or elements, as well as a state in which opposing forces or actions are balanced so that one is not stronger or greater than the other." If you aim instead for a more harmonic yin/yang, give-and-take relationship between your personal and professional life, you are better positioned to realize your goals and maintain a positive mental outlook.
#2: Start with Your WHY. Author Simon Sinek encourages us to “find our why” as we seek to inspire ourselves and others. In that spirit, ask yourself what matters most? What makes you the happiest? As Atomic Habits’ author James Clear points out, it is our behaviors that make up our identity. Once you are clear on who you want to be, make sure you are spending your time doing the things that support that vision. Use your purpose to evaluate every choice you make and challenge you face. There will always be things we HAVE to do that we may not WANT to do, but if you find yourself burning all of your time against things that don’t ultimately power your purpose, then it’s time to shift priorities and get your goals back in view.
#3: Prioritize Everything, Including YOU. Tackle your to do list by starting with what’s most important, then rank everything else as mid-level tasks and lower level “will get to it when I can” items. Your own self-care should be at the top—block out time for a massage, luxurious bath, good book or walk/run through the park. Those rewarding moments, however small, help you relax and recharge so you can get back to doing what you do best. Research shows that a poor work-life balance can have a dramatic impact on mental health, so prioritizing you helps ensure that you can practice Positive Intelligence, even when that dynamic yin/yang starts swirling in double time.
#4: Maximize Productivity. Multi-task whenever you can—at the salon, on the road, during meal prep. Take advantage of software designed to make you fire on all cylinders: Acuity, Todoist, Rescuetime, Brain.fm, Evernote, etc. Lean on other busy friends and exchange “services”—babysitting, meal prep, carpools, professional skills—chances are you aren’t the only one in town juggling a million things, so why not lighten the burden and share solutions amongst friends? That ‘go to’ pal might also be your designated “Balance Buddy” who can help maintain your focus and yin/yang equilibrium.
#5: Delegate and Outsource. There is power in recognizing you can’t actually do it all which can preserve your sanity. Stop “owning” planning for every birthday, baby shower and holiday event celebration at work. Let someone else take charge and just bring your smile. Divide and conquer home responsibilities with your significant other, roommate or older children—meal prep, cleaning, grocery shopping—get “all hands on deck” so you have more time on yours. There are a host of turnkey “outsourcing” solutions that can help—cleaning services, grocery delivery companies, meal delivery (we are obsessed with the healthy and delicious Hungryroot!), auto bill pay opt-ins, subscriptions to your must-have essentials, etc. It may cost a little extra, but there’s value in the time and productivity you get back.
Remember that we are all imperfect “works in progress,” working to find our joy as fulfilled human beings. We won’t always “knock it out of the park” at work or at home, but if we lean on each other, prioritize to succeed and keep our end goals in sight, we have a much better shot at realizing true happiness.
For more Fearless in 5 tips, check out wet-cement.com.