Work/Life Balance: An Elusive Endeavor of Self-Reflection
While an increasingly prevalent topic in corporate culture, work/life balance still remains an elusive ideal for many. Therefore, if you find yourself on a journey to establish a healthy balance between your career life and everything else, you may follow simple suggestions to exercise more, unplug from technology, or eliminate time-wasting activities.
However, these suggestions are productivity and efficiency driven; objectives which stem from a corporate mentality. While practical and applicable elsewhere, deeper reflection is required if you desire to understand your purpose.
Then, you can apply that understanding for a true revolution of balance in your life.
What Does Balance Look Like?
The ideal balance looks different from person to person, and the answer to this query isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. While current corporate culture may not necessarily encourage employees to reflect on their existence and self-purpose, determining your ideal personal balance will create a greater sense of satisfaction in your life.
Many people find that their purpose is not lived out through their careers, even though they spend many of their waking hours at work. Thus, dedicating a disproportionate amount of time to something that doesn’t provide personal fulfillment leads us to feel out-of-sorts. If you wish to correct this imbalance, then the first step lies in defining your life purpose.
Action Steps for Defining Your Purpose
Carve out thirty minutes this week to ponder your personal purpose. Ask yourself these questions:
- What activities in my past have brought me the most joy or happiness?
- Why did I feel fulfilled through these activities?
- How can I practice these personal values more often in different areas of my life?
Write about it, talk it out with someone, or do whatever works best for you to encourage creative thought.
Do Your Career and Passion Parallel Each Other?
While it is not an exclusive requirement for your career and your personal passions to align, giving greater consideration to how much time you dedicate to a career path helps determine if it allows you to achieve a deeper sense of purpose in your life.
According to a study conducted by OECD, the more hours you work (whether it’s your dream job or not) the less time you have available to fit anything else into your life. Therefore, once you’ve identified your personal purpose, the next step lies in managing your schedule to follow that purpose.
How much time would you ideally like to dedicate to your passion? Two hours a day? Ten hours? While this number remains entirely personal, this exercise will help you create space in your schedule to find your balance.
Action Steps to Create Balance
For one week, keep a daily schedule (divided in 30-minute increments) tracking where you spend your time.
- Focus on the main areas where you spend your time differently: work, family/relationships, personal development, TV and distractions, time outdoors, etc.
- Get visual: use color to more easily distinguish these different areas and recognize your habitual patterns
After this exercise, you will find that you have more control over your personal schedule than you think.
Ultimately, once you’ve identified where you spend your time, see where you can change your habits to incorporate more purpose. Start with thirty more minutes each day working on something that gives you passion, focus on how you feel during that time, and how it affects your balance.
Relationships, Happiness, and Balance
The cultivation of lifelong friendships remains an important factor in living a healthy adult life. Moreover, a study conducted by William Chopik (University of Michigan) found that our friendships have a significant impact on our health and overall happiness in life.
Understandably, balancing a social calendar in the midst of a 50+ hour work week can prove challenging. However, as Chopik asserts, making time for important relationships remains one of the most important exercises for our own personal fulfillment.
This balance between work and relationships will look different for everyone, as no exact formula exists to achieve the “ideal” work/life balance. Nobody else can tell you what your ideal balance looks like. Simply recognizing that you are in control of your work/life balance is the first step in achieving your purpose.