Life Check: What Are You Focused On?
Let’s do a quick exercise: close your eyes for five seconds and think about your life. When the five seconds are over, open them again.
What were the images that flashed across your mind?
The face of your partner? You taking part in your favorite activity? Your best friend, parents or children? These are some of the most common.
Now, be honest, did the image of your sitting in your office slaving away in front of your computer cross your mind? Probably not.
While SHEROES is all about empowering women to have successful careers, let’s take a moment to step back and look at life as a whole.
How Work Makes Us Feel
Now for another exercise: spend 10-20 minutes reading articles that get your attention in your LinkedIn Pulse feed.
It’s not a long time, but at the end of it you feel far more mentally drained and exhausted than when you started.
Undoubtedly you read some good ideas and inspiring quotes, but with authors who don’t know you bossing you around about what you should do differently and how you should constantly strive to be the best manager, it’s only normal to want to walk away just to rejuvenate your mental batteries.
In fact, that’s the very definition of work—it’s something that tires you, mentally or physically.
Time to Rejuvenate: Draw a Line & Don’t Cross It
No matter how passionate you are about your work, you can’t let it overrun your life.
If you do, you’ll burn out, lose the spark that ignites your passion, and your personal relationships will start to suffer.
As someone who’s self-employed, I’ve found the best ways to stay centered and rejuvenated in my personal life (as well as on top of it all in my professional life) is to have clear lines that divide working time from non-working time, and I don’t mix them. I also keep the number of hours relatively even, so each one gets a fair split and neither one takes over the other.
Even if you’re not in charge of your own time schedule and are working from your office, try making office time strictly for work and non-office time strictly free from work. After just a few days, you’ll feel incredibly fresh and rejuvenated in both areas.
But if your boss is the kind to demand 24/7 availability, it might be time to reconsider who you’re working for.
Work: A Means to An End
Having income-based and professional advancement goals is a great thing. They’re what keep us moving forward, give us motivation, make us smarter, and make us the top-notch experts our clients or employers are willing to pay top-dollar for.
However, in life, they’re not everything. And if we fail at some of those goals, life goes on.
Remember the image that flashed in front of your mind when you thought about your life for five seconds? That person or that thing is still going to be there whether or not you raise your income by another figure or lose your job entirely.
Even the famous greats whose work has become their legacy knew that at the end of the day, their work was still work. And no matter how passionate they were about their work, they all (well, the well-balanced ones, anyway) had something that was closer to them and more special than their day jobs.
Here’s a couple of examples:
“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” -Hillary Clinton
“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” -Betsy Jacobson
“You can love your job, but your job will not love you back.” -Cathie Black
So, in the SHEROES spirit of helping each other be successful in the workplace, what are the best ways you’ve found to strike a work-life balance?