For years we have been hearing this phrase – work-life balance – but what does that actually mean? Is it a goal to achieve, is it just a popular buzz word, or is it something else entirely? For many people, finding a balance is important to staying functional and moving forward. But finding that balance can appear difficult, if not impossible; but we can reach that goal, little by little. And a business can help employees learn how to have a healthy balance at work too.
Here are some ways you can evaluate your own work-life balance as well as some ways a company can help employees at work.
Determine Personal Work Goals
The first step in achieving a healthy work-life balance is understanding that it actually is not something to “achieve,” but rather, it is a series of goals to keep your mind healthy. For me, when I meet my daily and weekly goals, I will feel better, both mentally and physically.
What does a successful day look like for you? What about a good week? A month? A year? Once you determine those benchmarks, break them down to manageable pieces – you know what works for you. Look at what you can do at work and at home to help you get to the state of mind you desire.
Because a healthy work-life balance is a series of goals, consistently re-evaluate your goals. Look back at the past month, 6 months, or year and see what personal goals you have accomplished, then set new ones. If there are any personal goals still on your list, adjust to make them attainable or see if a completely new goal better suits your life now.
In the workplace, managers can assist by providing evaluations and having employees do self-reviews at the same time. When the two come together for a meeting, they can make sure everyone is on the same page in understanding what is expected from all parties. This gives a good opportunity for employees to do a professional self-reflection. And more importantly, this practice can give employees confidence in their career because they know where they stand, know what needs to be improved, and can identify tools or skills needed to achieve their new goals.
Talk it Out
Sometimes defining a successful work-life balance can be difficult or identifying the steps to reach your goals can be overwhelming. When this happens, turn to trusted people in your life to talk to. For me personally, I have a few trusted colleagues who know me better than anyone; they always show me a different perspective when I am looking at a problem. Talking it out can be therapeutic.
For employers, offering confidential Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can provide employees with access to mental health professionals that they would not have found otherwise. Speaking with a professional can give people valuable tools to help them break those overwhelming tasks down to small, manageable ones. Not only can individuals get the assistance they need, the company can have healthier employees who have problem-solving abilities.
The bottom line is that “work-life balance” means whatever you want it to mean in your life – call it mental health, happiness, success, or all of the above. All that matters is that you recognize that you are not a work horse meant to slave away for a dollar, life should be enjoyed. And you deserve to enjoy the life you work so hard for.