What is Work-Life Balance? (And How to Achieve It)

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  • 14 Jun, 2022  |
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1 What is Work-Life Balance? (And How to Achieve It)

There’s a lot of chatter about “work-life balance” in the business world – and there has been for most of the last decade. But the troubling reality is that most professionals are futile in their attempts to achieve this state. And in most cases, it’s due to a lack of focus, priorities, and discipline.

If you’re serious about achieving work-life balance, you need a proper plan of attack.

What is Work-Life Balance? And What is it Not?

Before we can dig into practical tips for achieving work-life balance, we have to make sure we’re clear on what it entails. Despite being such a ubiquitous term, it’s amazing how many people have an incorrect view of work-life balance.

Mental Health Foundation puts it best when they say, “A healthy work-life balance will mean different things to us all. It’s not so much about splitting your time 50/50 between work and leisure but making sure you feel fulfilled and content in both areas of your life.”

In other words, the objective isn’t to merge these two phases of your life so that work is life and life is work. Many people incorrectly think of work-life balance in these terms. As a result, they end up having no boundaries between their work and their personal lives. This leads to exhaustion, burnout, unhealthy relationships, and an inability to relax.

A healthy balance looks different for all of us, but is generally thought to be an optimal level of prioritization between your personal and professional activities. As some have said, it’s a state of being happy in all areas of your life. You’re happy when you’re working and you’re equally happy when you’re not. In this sense, work-life balance is contentment.

Simple Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Understanding work-life balance is one thing. Achieving it is another. Here are some simple suggestions to make it easier to do the latter:

1. Choose the Right Career

The first step is to choose (or pivot to) the right career. If you’re working a 9-to-5 job that requires you to clock in and work at the same physical location day after day, it’s nearly impossible to achieve work-life balance. You need a job that provides some level of flexibility, autonomy, and opportunity for growth.

There are no perfect careers – every job is what you make it – but certain professions lend themselves better to a balanced lifestyle than others. Real estate is a great example. Becoming a real estate agent allows you to work for yourself, set your own hours, add your own clients, and control your income. This gives you the opportunity to lead a balanced life.

2. Create Boundaries

Having the opportunity for balance and actually achieving it are two different things. The key is to get good at creating boundaries. You must create boundaries around your personal life and your professional life to prevent non-essential tasks and obligations from superseding the things that truly matter.

Drop any unnecessary obligations that are getting in the way of contentment. Take inventory of your weekly calendar and make a list of things you can cross off the list. You don’t need to be a member of every group, organization, board, team, or social hour that you’re invited to. Pick and choose your spots.

3. Protect Your Free Time

Your free time is precious. If there are undesirable tasks consuming your free time, find a way to eliminate, simplify, or outsource. You may even need to rethink your lifestyle.

For example, do you really need a 4,000-square-foot house on a one-acre landscaped lot in an exclusive neighborhood? Think about how much upkeep and landscaping is required. If you aren’t careful, all of your evenings and weekends can be spent cleaning, mowing the grass, etc. Protecting your free time could look like hiring a maid service and lawn company. Or it could be as drastic as selling your house and moving into a townhome that doesn’t require nearly as much weekly upkeep.

Adding it All Up

True work-life balance doesn’t happen by chance. It requires intentional planning to achieve. In many respects, it’s a constant work in progress. You have to remain committed to the process of constant optimization.

If at first something doesn’t work, tweak, iterate, or eliminate. Eventually, your commitment to finding balance will be rewarded. Stay the course!

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