I don’t know if I mentioned it, but my son is getting married in August. As an independent business owner I thought it would be relatively easy for me to handle both the wedding preparations and my business obligations. I have the privilege of flexibility in my work so I assumed that I was competent enough to balance duties for both tasks without incident. I am discovering that I might have been a tad over confident in my assessment of the situation. What I have learned through this experience is that there is a delicate balance between work life and home life that needs to be maintained in order to live a healthy life. The wedding is a temporary departure from my daily routine but it has been the catalyst for me to explore the balance between work and home for the everyday employee.
We can never underestimate the importance good health plays in our daily functioning. According to research done by the Mayo Clinic in order to live a healthy, balanced life we need to pay attention to the following:
- Nurture yourself with personal care
- Time Management
- Support Systems
- Prioritize work time and leisure time
- Adhere to boundaries
- Learn to say NO
- Take advantage of work options: flex time, job share, telecommuting, vacation
There are many distractions and roadblocks working against us to shift our focus away from seeking a balanced life. There is a reason the phrase “rat race” is used to describe work. Have you noticed how the use of technology has increased your accessibility to your employer? If you are unavailable on your home phone (do you still have one of those?) you can be reached by cell, text or email. Has your employer advised you either not to have a Facebook account or to limit your Facebook content away from work because it is not good for business? What happened to work hours like 9-5? How many of you think that the more hours you put in the more committed you look to your employer? Women are especially vulnerable to criticism because of family obligations. The recent publicity Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, has received with her advice for women to “lean in” to be more visible in the boardroom does not promote balance. Have you heard of the counter suggestion of “leaning out”? Home life usurps work.
Free labor is on the rise in corporate America. Job numbers have scared employees. No employee wants to be riffed because he/she is not perceived as a “team player”. According to a 2012 Expedia survey about vacation deprivation, the average American worker takes twelve days off when they are allotted fourteen. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not set policy on days off for employees. In most other industrialized nations they allow their workers between 20 and 30 vacation days a year.
It is important to realize that you are responsible for your own life. Work is what you do to earn money to survive in the society. It is a bonus if you have chosen well and enjoy what you do. It is often said that when a person is dying rarely is there regret about not spending more time at the office. The regrets are usually about time loss with family/friends and not paying attention to one’s health. Do yourself a favor and promise to re-examine your priorities. Search for the balance. Find the time to organize your life and create a balance between your work life and your home life. There may be sacrifices that you might encounter but the consequences are worth the risks. Take a page from The Millenials by Thom Rainer. They are advocating leaving work at work. They are challenging the system for the right not to have to choose between work life and home life. They are demanding a balanced life.
Ask yourself the question, where’s the balance?