Most of us want nothing more than balance in our lives. We want to spend equal time working and relaxing yet sometimes, we overburden ourselves and burn out fast.
A work-life balance is something we all wish we had. To me it has always seemed elusive. I can only do one thing at a time, so balance must come from splitting time among activities that I care about. At any one moment, balance is an illusion. Victor Hugo wrote, “To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.” Harmony may be a better way to evaluate our efforts, rather than balance. As a reflection exercise this week, I focused on the word balance. Here are some thoughts I had.
- Consider both heart and head. The energy to do something comes from the heart. If you listen mostly to your head, you will most likely run out of steam.
- Keep moving. Life is like riding a bicycle. If I keep moving, then it is easier to keep my balance. If I wait too long to take action, I risk getting stuck.
- Lean into the future. What is in front of me tends to be more important than what is behind me. I can’t change yesterday’s balance, but I can change tomorrow’s balance.
- Recognize hopes and needs. I need to know the difference between my hopes and my needs. Hope helps me reach for more. Needs focus my efforts, and demand humility.
For me, balance may always be just out of reach, but maybe that is a good thing. How do you find balance in your life? What steps do you take on a daily basis to ensure that you’re distributing time for relaxation at home while performing your duties well at work? If you’re not careful, you may end up like so many others with the label of “workaholic.” Pam Ruster explained to us what this means:
In the present economy, it is not uncommon that people find themselves working longer hours for the same money out of the pressures to keep their job. A person in this situation will take on some of the same characteristics of someone who works excessively which may result in relationship or health problems, similar to a smoker who continues to smoke even though it is not in their best interest. Another type of person that can be identified as a workaholic is the person with a previous addiction, but has now ceased that drug of choice. They may find themselves working more and developing a workaholic profile, seeing it as less harmful compared to the previous addiction.
Some people who already have an addictive personality type may find that they are throwing themselves into their work (almost like an addict would). In fact, this isn’t all that uncommon. A contributor at The Chronicle of Higher Education talked about her own experience with no work-life balance and how it affected her.
So what’s the problem? Last fall I physically collapsed.
I had been a fairly healthy person. But suddenly my body refused to heal from a simple infection, leading to inflammation that left me bedridden and unable to perform most of my duties for five long weeks. Even when the physical symptoms started to improve, I was unable to focus on my work. Never before had I felt what it was like to burn out completely.
Even someone who is highly educated fell victim to the blurred lines of a working life and a home life. This doesn’t have to be your story too. Have clear separation between your two worlds and don’t be afraid to use that vacation time, even if it means relaxing at home!