How Can I Balance Life & Career? Is that REALLY Possible? [4 Tips]

By A. Yanina Gomez, PhD

“I want to dedicate more time to my family but I also want to grow professionally. It’s complicated! Between keeping up with the busy schedule at work, taking care of responsibilities and trying to be noticed at work, I just don’t have enough hours in a day to do this.”

Does this sound familiar?

We hear over and over about balancing our life and career. But, what on earth does that mean? Are we talking about dedicating 50% of our time to live our life and 50% to our career? Is that possible… Is that realistic?
Perhaps your co-worker /Little Ms. Perfect!/ Jenny can wing it, but, for the rest of us, the 50/50 approach is unreal!

Let’s start by clarifying what I don’t mean when I refer to a healthy balance.

I am not talking about adding your life’s circumstances on one weighing pan of a scale of justice and your career on the other so they’re equally distributed in both sides. The truth is both areas actually intertwine and one influences the other.
 
Finding a healthy balance is something that only YOU can define. What looks like a healthy balance for me, might not even be near to what a healthy balance may look like for you. The key is to take time to reflect on and decide where your time, energy and effort will be invested and be willing to embrace balance as changeable based on the season you’re currently living instead of seeing it as a 50/50 cut concept.

To find balance between your life and work, consider these 4 suggestions:

1. Define What’s Important to You.

Before you conclude that this suggestion is self-centered, please hear me out. Most of us have tons of responsibilities and, at times, it feels that there’s not enough hours in a day to accomplish everything we need to do. But, if you take some time to outline what you do each day and how much time you allot to each thing you do, you’ll realized that often times, we spend time on things that aren’t important hence not making a difference in our life or in those around us.

Once you identify what is important to you (e.g., strengthening my relationship with a significant other, bringing food to the table, moving up in my career, etc.), then your actions and decisions should focus on accomplishing your goals. You begin to consciously choose to invest your time, effort and energy on accomplishing what is important to you so you may also allow time for others.

2. Be Gracious with Yourself

We are constantly making choices; personal, professional, financial choices… you name it. But, one of the best choices I’ve ever made is to take care of myself so I can optimize my life to make a greater impact in the lives of others. There are many ways to make healthy choices. Right? Some are adopting healthy eating habits and exercise as these two can make a huge impact on your body. There are many other ways, but today, I want to focus on scheduling downtime. Yes, downtime!

“What? I just told you that there’s not enough hours in the day!”

Did I just read your mind? Let’s think about this for a second.

“What good will it do to have a sick and miserable you around?”

Not much! So, before you reach the miserable level, schedule some time for relaxation. No reading emails, no answering texts or social media messages. I challenge you to do the unthinkable… Press the off button more often! We need a healthy YOU!

3. Focus and Be Selective

Let me start by saying this… It’s OK to say no! Whoever told you in the past that saying no is rude and unthinkable, don’t believe it! If you’re spending time doing things here and there keeping yourself busy, yet you’re neglecting yourself, loved ones and not living fully, that’s not balance.

Balancing your life and work isn’t easy. Again, it’s not about a 50/50 cut where 50% goes to investing in your life and family and 50% to accomplishing your professional goals. It’s about finding inner peace with how you’re handling and investing your life, embracing that each season in life has its own focus, and what’s imperative today might not be as important a few months from now. If you’re not focusing on what is important right now, balance is a wishful thinking.

As you begin to see time as an asset you will guard it wisely. This means that, you will not be saying yes to each invitation or proposition others present to you. You have to be selective! Measure the investment and benefits of each proposition. Will this proposition make me grow personally and/or professionally? Will it make a difference in other people’s lives? What impact will this proposition make in my personal relations? Is it worth it?

As you become selective, you’ll begin to differentiate between what’s important and what can wait.

4. Refine Balance Based on Your Life Seasons

Enjoying balance in your life has to do with the way you invest your time, energy and effort during your current season in life, the impact this investment is making in you and others and experiencing the inner peace that comes with doing what’s right.
 
Take the time to identify and embrace what’s important to you, invest in your wellness, be selective (prioritize), say no when it’s needed and refine your balance based on the present season you’re living without feeling guilty.
 
There’s no need to feel guilty when your time, energy and effort have to be focused on a specific goal for a season.  Be clear that this is a temporary “imbalance” and you are conscious and proactive about not neglecting the people and things that really matter to you.

Which of these tips is your strength? Share below!

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