Don’t let the name deceive you: a healthy work–life balance is made up of more than two parts.
In our fast-paced, career-focused world, there has been plenty of discussion in recent years about the importance of balancing work and life. Without doubt,
this is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding burnout.
However, this simple concept can gloss over the fact that the ‘life’ part is not one dimensional – instead, it’s a complex mix of different components,
each of which deserves time and attention.
Juggling your multifaceted life
Everyone is unique. This may be a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Perhaps you are married; perhaps not. Perhaps you have kids; perhaps
not. You might be young or old, introvert or extrovert, early bird or night owl. The point is that how you lead your life should meet your needs rather
than fitting a generic mould.
However, in a broad sense, everyone’s life has similar components, including family, friends and self. So, if you’re trying to strike a healthy work–life
balance, this also requires finding a good balance among these components on the life side of the equation.
What does this mean in practical terms?
- If you’re a parent, this might mean making time for regular date nights with your partner to ensure that your home time isn’t taken up 100% by your
- If you’re in a steady relationship, this might mean making time for you and your partner each to spend with your own group of friends so that these
relationships don’t die off simply because you’re a couple now.
- If you’re leading a carefree life of partying with your pals whenever you’re not at work, this might mean making time to catch up with your parents,
It’s all about striking a balance to ensure that you don’t get so caught up in one area of your life that you neglect the others. This same reasoning applies
to making time just for you.
Making time for self-care
No matter how much you care for your family and friends, the ‘life’ part of your work–life balance shouldn’t be all about them. If you neglect making time
for yourself because you’re too focused on others, eventually you might face personal burnout in the same way that workaholics face career burnout.
Self-care means being aware of what you need on a personal level – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Again, the specifics of what you
require to lead a healthy and happy life are entirely up to you and may be completely different from those around you. The key is to listen to your
body, mind and heart.
Do you need a quiet lunch break by yourself with just a book for company once in a while? Then tell your colleagues that you’re going to dine solo on occasion.
Do you feel like you never have time to exercise? Then discuss with your spouse how best to manage your family schedule to ensure you have time for
a few workouts per week.
Addressing your personal needs in this way is not about being selfish – it’s about managing your personal well-being in a healthy way, which will ultimately
make for healthier relationships in other areas of your life.
Finding the sweet spot
There is no single definition of a healthy work–life balance: what works for you is for you alone to decide. This involves acknowledging the different
elements (family, friends and self) that make up the life side of the equation and balancing them in a happy equilibrium.
Finding the sweet spot for how to distribute your time and attention among the people and relationships in your life will help you discover your personal definition of a healthy work–life balance – and reap all the benefits that come with it.