Yesterday on Facebook, my profile asked me to write an introduction about myself. I had no idea what to write. It’s weird how difficult it is to describe yourself, especially when you’re trying to sell yourself. And you know what I wrote on? I wrote about my career(s). I talked about being a therapist and blogger. It’s interesting that I chose my career(s) as the defining feature of who I am, and what makes me, me. But a lot of us do this! We often get so consumed with our careers and it’s not hard to do. We spend half of our week at work, and if you’ve got kids, or if you’re in school and working full time like me, it can be hard to find time for yourself. Finding a work-personal life balance isn’t easy, and often takes tough decision making, but it is possible. So today I’m going to tell you how I’ve learned to achieve this balance through my own experiences.
As a therapist, I can’t bring my client’s problems home with me. This is made easier by confidentiality issues so I can’t even talk about any of it with anyone. Knowing that I ethically cannot take their issues home with me makes it much easier to leave everything at the door. It prevents burnout and I never feel overloaded. At work, I have learned the power of not responding at all. Sometimes a co-worker will intentionally do or say something to you to antagonise you or get you into trouble, but getting riled up pushing back could actually make the situation worse, especially if you’re not good at compartmentalising your emotions. Then there are times when I have to say no, even if it comes off as mean and insensitive. It’s not easy, but if you have the kind of co-workers or boss that understands, if you can just take the time to explain your needs, it should be easier. For me, I ask that no one even speak to me if I’m eating, because of my health-related issues and I don’t attend extra-curricular events that infringe on my personal time away from work. It’s all about creating boundaries and making it known.
This is why the key to creating a healthy work-life balance is living intentionally. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of work, home, sleep, repeat. Living robotically will never bring you happiness; and waiting around for happiness to find you isn’t the best game plan either. You must intentionally seek your own happiness, through an activity you really enjoy. The best activities are the ones that get you out of the house, excite you and teach you something new. Attending church regularly has really helped me to wind down and prepare my head for a new week in the office. The praise and worship, teachings and enlightening conversations with my friends all help to keep me feeling positive and refreshed. I have even declared a Sabbath so that I have one, do-nothing day per week. Maybe there’s something you need to cut-out, or something positive you need to add. When you know what your life is supposed to look like, it’s easy to decide what doesn’t belong.
A simple practice of intentionality: before you do the next action online or at work, pause a moment, close your eyes and mentally say your intention. Why are you doing this? Is it out of compassion for others, or yourself? Is it to make someone happier? To improve the world? Out of gratitude for the work and kindness of others?
And then as you do the action, be mindful of your intention. This is a small step, but in those few moments you will be living an intentional life.
Ephesians 5:15 NIV “Be very careful, then how you live – not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity…”
How do you achieve the right work-life balance for you?
Everyone is different, so you all might have some different tips than the ones I just shared. Leave yours in the comments below—I’d love to read them.