Work-life balance, between personal and professional responsibilities, is one of the most challenging issues for today’s working professionals to solve. Working professionals trying to balance the responsibilities of parenthood, marriage, housekeeping, career growth, and possibly caring for aging parents takes its toll. Today, people are looking for more than earning a paycheck or climbing the corporate ladder.
5 Major Ingredients
To strive for a sense of work-life balance, let’s first change the phrase to work-life alignment. There are 5 major ingredients to include as you design your own personal recipe for a comfortable fit.
1. Identified Core Values
Whether you are consciously aware of them or not, everyone has a core set of personal values that shape your priorities, reactions and goals. Values are the reference points you use to formulate your attitudes and opinions and find motivation to set upon certain life directions.
How do we determine what our core values are? I would start by completing the following exercise.
- Create a written list of 20 values that matter most to you and a written list of 20 values that matter least.
- Set aside the 2 lists for one day.
- Come back to the 2 lists and review what words you have listed. See if you have any changes.
- Select the top 10 values that you have listed for each of the two lists from 1-20 in order of importance. You have now cut the 2 lists in half.
- Review your 10 values for both the list of What Matters Most and What Matters Least.
- Select the 5 values from each of the two lists that you feel are the most important 5 values.
- You now have 5 core values that are most important in your life and 5 values that you think are least important in your life.
2. A Passion
When your emotions and feelings support your core values, you find passion—an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling toward some activity, object, or concept. When you are able to follow your passion, life seems good, and your life will have a sense of fulfillment.
3. SMART Goals
Using “Smart Goals” is a goal-setting strategy that clearly identifies what you want to achieve and helps you focus on a single end point.
Have you ever taken your car for a drive, with no specific idea of where you want to go? Most likely, when you get into your car, you have a specific destination in mind. Goals are no different. Without goals, you have no targeted direction or sense of purpose.
Many of you have heard of “SMART” Goals. It is a helpful reminder of how to create goals that allow you to be successful at hitting your target. Specific in nature, measurable to be able to monitor your progress, attainable with the skill level you own, relevant for what is currently important in your life, and time specific because deadlines matter. Being “SMART” with your goal setting is a sure-way to reach your destination.
4. Using Time Wisely
Too many of us spend time worrying about what we need to do rather than doing the tasks. We fret about how many demands are placed on us by too many people. It would be wonderful if we could produce more time, but that is impossible.
We need to use the time we have available in more productive and fulfilling ways. We need to
- Prioritize our activities with more realistic goals
- Create an action plan
- Eliminate the time wasters
5. A Best Friend
Friendships are meant to be a safe haven and can provide many ways to reduce stress in your life. With so much to do in any given day, it can become easy to fall into the trap of feeling down on yourself and becoming your own worst enemy. That’s where best friends come into the picture.
Having a best friend enables you to reverse this thinking process. A best friend is someone you can talk to about the way you feel about yourself. She can provide insights and understanding as well as offering the ability to share with humor, good food and honest feedback. She’s the one who believes in you until you believe in yourself.
Balance to Your Chapter in Life
Creating this recipe for a comfortable work-life alignment requires a review of the life chapter you are currently experiencing and the life chapters that might ensue.
There is no “one size fits all” when creating such a balance. The balance is the result of handling your responsibilities and commitments effectively so that you are comfortable in your own skin. It is a personal thing.
Creating work-life balance changes with each chapter of your life. That is why life is such a continually renewing opportunity for growth and adventure.