For several decades now, the “holy grail” for workplace psychologists and Human Resource professionals, not to mention the plethora of other experts who have an interest in this domain, has been “work life balance”. That beautiful nirvana-like place where we get enough sleep, eat well and exercise regularly, enjoy meaningful work AND spend enough, good quality time with our family and friends.
For several decades now the pursuit of this goal has led to considerable frustration and disappointment. Why? Because it’s simply unattainable!
Now that might sound like a negative, pessimistic conclusion. But it’s based on many, many years of personal and professional experience. I’ve seen so many people try and fail, that I’ve come to believe the phrase “work life balance” does potentially more harm than good. But there is an alternative. And I’m pleased to note that this alternative is both more desirable and more achievable.
What is it, then, to which I refer? Well, I suggest that rather than aiming for work life balance our goal should be to aim for … life! Or better still, to live … our best possible life!!!
How do we do this? That’s a great question; and here are my top 10 tips…
- Define: what does your best possible life look like. It’s different for everyone and if you don’t know what yours looks like you’ll never have any chance of enjoying it
- Create meaning: accomplishment and achievement is great, but it will be massively more satisfying if what you’re achieving is full of purpose
- Prioritise: you can’t do everything, and you shouldn’t even try. Living our best possible lives means saying “yes” to lots of great things but it’s also important to say “no” to some things (and some people)
- Focus: on what you can control, and accept what you can’t control. Focus on what’s really important, and be prepared to ignore that which is seemingly urgent
- Use others: not in a manipulative way but rather, in a constructive way. We all need help sometimes and we can all live better lives if we reach out and ask for help from family and friends and those who’re ready, willing and able to support us
- Play with others: have fun! As noted above, you don’t have to do it all on your own. In fact, life’s much more fun if you live it with others
- Lose yourself in what you love AND you’ll find yourself in what you love: if you spend more time on some things than others that’s not always “out of balance”. In fact, if you’re loving something and doing really well at something go for it as hard and as much as you can (as long as it’s not at the expense of your health and wellbeing)
- Mind your attitude: the way we think about ourselves and the world around us significantly influences how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Which means that our mindset can determine whether busy-ness is stressful of satisfying, fulfilling or frustrating
- Use your strengths: focus on applying your best, most positive attributes and find ways to utilise these each and every day in as many ways as possible. If you’re not sure what your core strengths are, then take the free survey available HERE
- Review, reward and revise: set aside time, at regular intervals, to review how you’re progressing, reward yourself for what you’re doing well, and make revisions where and when necessary
In short, take control of your life. Don’t worry so much about counting hours but more so, focus more on making the hours count!