The Balancing Act
In the age of “leaning in” and #leanintogether how many of us (men and women alike) struggle with the elusive, “work life balance”? Does it even exist? Is it achievable? While I’m certain I do not have the golden answer, I did have a major realization: “life” is way too broad of a category.
What is “life” anyhow?
I did some quick Googling, and discovered the “Wellness Wheel” (plug: “Wellness Wheel,” into Google Images to learn more). The most common Wellness Wheel identifies the following areas of life:
Adding in a few areas that were on other ‘Wellness Wheels,’ I concluded that there are 8 categories: work, home, family, friends, finances, personal time, health, and community. If any one of these is off, life can feel out of balance (and the pendulum can swing in multiple directions several times through the week or even day!).
Personally, there are times when I feel like I am a circus juggling act. I have a habit of letting stress build, and we all know being stressed out isn’t fun or healthy. But, because I’m a nerd, and I like to plan, I forced myself to sit down and truly think about and consider each area that contributes to my ‘balance’.
After two hours of pretty intense self-reflection and lots of caffeine, I was able to come up with a few ideas that may help me achieve balance in my life. By completing the exercise below I was able to identify some common themes that contributed to all areas of my “life” being out of balance, and I identified some simple actions to help improve and alleviate stress. For me, those things included: making sure I take a real lunch break at least a few times a week (and not always eat at my desk!), take the dog for more walks, find an organization to volunteer with, and schedule some built in coffee dates with my girlfriends.
If you’re struggling with balance, I encourage you to sit down and think about your work life balance, and to really consider what makes up your “life” portion of the equation.
6 Steps to Help You in Your Quest for Work Life Balance
1. Gather the necessary supplies:
-Template Work Life Balance Chart
-Your favorite pen or marker
-Colorful markers or highlighter
-Coffee (optional, but highly recommended!)
2. Reflect & brainstorm about each category
-1st ID challenges and stressors
-2nd ID what you can do to relieve stress or solve challenges
-3rd ID resources available to help
-4th ID top priorities
-5th Repeat (& drink coffee!)
3. Reflect and identify what is most out of balance:
Tip: highlight the ‘out of balance’ categories for an added visual
4. Make a pie chart of how you spend your time:
5. Write out what your ideal day and weekend would look like:
6. Reflect and write overall goals:
After completing the exercise, look for common themes and consider what you can do to help yourself achieve the ever elusive work life balance. Best of luck in your quest for balance, and I promise to share if I come up with anything revolutionary. I’ll close out with this quote: “Life is like riding a bike. It is impossible to maintain your balance while standing still.” – Linda Brakeall.