Working is an important part of life and often adds considerably to a person’s well-being. Work can provide meaning, enjoyment, achievement, status and of course remuneration.
Work can also cause problems. Long hours, commuting, uncertainty and expectations can all create anxiety and stress. You can also add the fact that too many people don’t feel their jobs are enjoyable or fulfilling.
Studies have shown that in general people are working longer hours than ever, are more stressed and are neglecting other areas of their lives. It is a shame that a mother or a father will be stressed, working long hours to provide the things that a family needs when in fact the family needs a stress-free parent who is around more.
Every person is different and has different circumstances but some aspects to consider for a better work-life balance are:
Are you working for the right reasons?
Is work a means to an end or an end in itself?
Work to live, don’t live to work. Sometimes we can let work take over our lives or at least become the dominant factor in our lives. It is wrong to kid ourselves that work is honourable and rewarding when other aspects of your life are neglected or suffering.
Work alone cannot define us as people. A life of well-being includes many aspects, work just being one. There are relationships with family and friends. There is time spent contributing to community or other good works. There is time for self-improvement and learning. There is time for solitude, rest and reflection. There is time for exercise. There is time for hobbies and recreation. Try to include all of these into each week.
Work-life balance isn’t just about working less it is also about the quality of the job. Get the right balance between enjoyment and achievement. It is better for you to do a job you enjoy and can do well rather than one that pays better.
Get a job that is engaging. The concept of Flow states that ideally our skills will meet our challenges. If we are not challenged enough we will be bored. If we are challenged too much we will be stressed and anxious. If skills and challenges are nearly equal we can engage better and we can slowly take on greater challenges as our skills increase to meet them.
Can at least some of your work be for yourself at home. If you can grow vegetables, make and trade goods, do house maintenance and so on, you could decrease the amount of time you spend on money-work.
To provide a better balance here are some options:
- Work from home – can you telecommute or work for yourself from home?
- Job-sharing – can you split your job with someone else?
- Contracting – can you earn more per hour, and therefore do less hours, by contracting?
- Alternative revenue sources – are there other ways you can make some money, what can you make and then trade/sell?