In today's society, not much is harder than mastering the balance of life and work… not to mention also having a home business. In this post, I'll be providing my best tips for “having it all”… meaning having a real balance between the various aspects of life that are important to you.
First, let's define “work-life balance” (note: feel free to substitute “business” for “work” in this definition).
Definition of Work-Life Balance according to Wordnik.com:
“The relative importance of work and personal life to a particular individual.”
And there's this definition from the Cambridge Dictionary :
“The amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy.“
Makes sense, although as you'll see later I have a problem with reducing “balance” to purely quantitative terms.
Basically, mastering the balance of life and work… and even a side business is something we all strive for but can feel overwhelming. Before I give you some tips to help achieve this feeling of balance, there are a couple of concepts I want you to consider…
Life-Work Balance Means Different Things to Different People
Mastering the balance between life and work (and even a side business) means different things to each person, especially depending on their stage of life.
For someone in their 20's who is unmarried with no kids and is just starting out in the workplace, “balance” might mean spending as much time as possible learning the ropes at their new job and showing the boss what they bring to the table, and very little time on anything else.
But for someone else in their 40's with a spouse and 3 kids who've been at the same job for years, “balance” would probably mean spending just as much if not more time with family and getting involved with the kid's extracurricular activities rather than showing the boss how dedicated he/she is.
And finally, to someone in their 60's who has had a major health scare, “balance” in their life could mean spending the majority of time with family, including the new grandkids. Work at this stage of life usually doesn't take on the meaning it once did when we were younger.
As I said, balance means different things to different people.
Life-Work/Business Balance Depends on Priorities
Another factor in determining work-life balance is a person's priorities — what's important to them. For some, faith and family are all important. For others, business or work takes top priority.
When I was in my 20's, school was all-important. I had yet to start a family so my education took top priority in my life.
In my 30's, I had started a family, and this replaced school as my top priority. But I was also at the beginning of my healthcare career and there was a constant push-pull between work and family. Sometimes I did well with that balance, oftentimes I struggled.
In my 40's, life took some hard times. A divorce. The death of both my parents. And my priorities shifted. Family took on an even more important place in my life and work, because I was already established in my field, took a back seat.
In my 50's, I started to look at life after work. I started my home business with the hope of having more CHOICES when I decided to stop working. I got remarried and now was trying to navigate a blended family.
And the challenge of trying to balance 3 major parts of my life — work, business, and family — was VERY challenging.
Mastering the challenge of work and life balance really comes down to where you are in life and your circumstances.
THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS!
5 Tips For Mastering The Balance of Life and Work… And Business
Having said that, let me give you a few tips on being more balanced in your life, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances.
Tip 1: Wherever You Are… Be There 100%
One of the most common questions I get is “how did you balance your healthcare career, building your business, and family… and still take care of yourself?”
The answer: Not always great, but I got really good at COMPARTMENTALIZING my life. I tried very hard (and usually succeeded) in not letting one area of my life bleed into another. For example:
When I was with my kids (and now my grandkids), I was fully present with them. Nothing else mattered. I didn't take work calls. I didn't think of business. They had my full and undivided attention.
When I was at my job, by necessity I had to be there 100%. My work demanded my full focus. I never tried to conduct business at my job. And I did my best to block out family issues.
And when I carved out time to work on my home business, I was able to shut off work and everything else for 1-2 hours a day at night. I limited distractions and gave it my all.
Wherever you are, be there 100%.
Tip 2: Have a Very Clear Idea of What's Important To You
What are your priorities at this point in your life?
Is it family, faith, work, business?
Be truthful here. Sometimes we talk about our priorities in a way we THINK we should, in a way that's socially acceptable.
You don't have to announce your priorities to the world, especially if you fear being judged. But you must be truthful to yourself… because your priorities will dictate how/where you spend the majority of your time and focus.
Tip 3: Balance Doesn't Mean Equal Time
Here's where most people slip up. They equate balance with equal time.
Achieving balance doesn't mean that you need to spend 3 hours with the kids if you just spent 3 hours working on a Saturday. The QUALITY of time is way more important than the actual number of hours. I know you get this, but we often get hung up on the quantity.
Trying to equalize the time we spend in all aspects of our lives is like a never-ending ride on the Tilt-O-Whirl at the amusement park. Round and round you go with no end in sight.
Stop trying to balance your life based on numerical time. Instead, use the quality of time as your compass.
Tip 4: Prioritize Your Health
This may seem obvious, but to many, their health is the last thing on their list of priorities. They may say it's important, but their actions say otherwise.
Lack of sleep, high stress with no outlet, eating fast food several days of the week… these practices will eventually devastate your health.
And as the saying goes, if you don't have your health, you have nothing.
Do your best to prioritize your health so you can enjoy the rest of your life.
Tip 5: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
There will be times when work or business will predominate your life. A last-minute deadline by your boss. A launch of a new product line for your business.
You temporarily need to spend a lot more time in these areas of your life and your family gets less of you.
That's not wrong… it's life.
But you need to communicate this with your family.
This past week I was involved in a book launch for my business. It took my full attention and I needed to spend way more time on business than I normally would.
But I was able to communicate this to my family and they understood.
It also works the other way. Back when I was working at the hospital, I had an ongoing family issue that needed more of my attention. So I told my boss that I would need to spend less time at work, come in later and leave earlier. And some days I wouldn't be able to come in at all.
Once I communicated the problem, my boss was very cooperative and I was able to shift my work-life balance in a different direction.
It's okay to be imbalanced temporarily. It's life.
But with proper communication, imbalance doesn't have to equate with more stress.
Mastering the balance of life and work… and even a business doesn't warrant a one-size-fits-all approach. There are many factors that feed into your concept of balance, including your stage of life and your different priorities. It's important to do your best to maintain whatever balance looks like for you, without beating yourself up for trying to be perfect.
Resource: If you're looking for legit ideas on how to start a side business and make money from home, this free guide is a perfect place to start
It's Your Time to SHINE!
Dr. Bob Clarke
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