It’s a little-known fact that the average person spends over 100,000 hours of their lives pursuing a career. This career then starts to shape who they are, which is a little wonder when you consider many people automatically introduce themselves by their job title, rather than their name.
Historically, work has always been about earning money to live, but for a growing number of professionals the recession has focused people more on income survival, and personal and professional identities are becoming blurred.
The problem with working for longer is that the risks are so much greater if people become ill, suffer a personal injury such as stress or depression, and are unable to sustain this level of work. The average person has very little savings to fall back on in these circumstances, and families can be under serious threat if illness reduces their normal income. This helps to explain the rise in specialist injury lawyers.
People are spending more time than ever working, and the promise of a perfect work-life balance appears to have all but gone out of the window. But why? And is there anything we can stop doing in order to achieve the perfect work-life balance?
1. Stop comparing yourself to others
There are no rules – balance is a very individual thing and everyone should find their own equilibrium. Stop telling yourself ‘I should be able to…’ or ‘he/she can do it, so I should be able to’
Pay attention to your own needs and wellbeing and listen to your intuition.
2. Stop being a martyr
If the phrases ‘I’ve got so much to do’ or ‘I have to do everything around here’ sound familiar, and it’s making you feel resentful whilst at the same time you’re hogging all the work, then you might have fallen into the trap of being a martyr and you must stop.
Let other people take some of the strain from you and learn to trust that others will be able complete tasks to a good standard (even if it’s not the way you would have done it)
3. Stop saying yes
This doesn’t mean saying yes all the time or refusing to work within your job description, this is about all the extra work and responsibilities you’re taking home with you. If you are someone who tends to say ‘yes’ to everything there are a couple of good techniques to help you deal with this:
If someone asks you to do something, avoid committing either way immediately. Say you’ll get back to them in five minutes, and then use this time to think clearly about whether you can realistically take on this work
If you need to say no to someone, just say it. Try to avoid making excuses or justifying why you can’t do it, just firmly and calmly say no.
4. Get off the grid
In today’s digital world, it’s so easy to spend 9-5 glued to a computer or laptop at work and then from 6-10 glued to your tablet or smartphone at home. Try to take yourself off the grid at least one evening each week and do something completely different instead. Read a book, take a long bath, play with your children or simply sit in the garden with a glass of wine.
5. Stop looking for perfection
Start celebrating what does get done, even if it’s only part of what you planned. It’s better than nothing and over time creates a good foundation of well being and order we all crave.