Is Work-Life Balance Even Possible?

Is it possible to work at creating and preserving space in our lives for the things that matter most? A balance will not just happen. We have to work on it and be intentional about establishing margin in our lives. Recovering balance to work and life takes awareness, courage, and might involve risk. Swenson suggests the following:

  • Learn to decline with gratitude. Before you agree to something, don’t check your calendar—check your goals. Only say “Yes,” out of genuine interest.
  • Defend boundaries. Having clarity around our core priorities and what matters most gives us the courage needed to defend our boundaries.
  • Have several gears. In many workplaces, there seems to be only one speed, and that is fast. There are times when we need to shift to “park” or “neutral” to be mindful, which can lead to better decisions and healthier relationships.
  • Obey the speed limit. Everyone might be “speeding,” but you know yourself. When you are going “too fast,” you are likely to break down.
  • Seek solitude. Find time to “unplug and disconnect” to remember your priorities. Consider a silent retreat to stop thinking about work.
  • Maximize our energy. Energy, not time, is the main component of high performance. According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in their book, The Power of Full Engagement, “Full engagement begins with feeling eager to get to work in the morning, equally happy to return home in the evening, and capable of setting clear boundaries between the two.”
  • Take care of yourself. While it is common sense to get sufficient sleep, nutrition, and exercise, as a result of progress, this is not often the case. Our body is a system, and just as with automobiles, we have to take care of maintenance if we want the vehicle to operate properly.
  • Cherish the home. Swenson says it best: “If we wish to have a work/life balance, we first need a ‘life’ and ‘home’ to occupy that side of the equation.” While not everyone has a spouse and children, at the end of the day, we each have some type of family in broad terms—people who care about our wellbeing. “The family, traditionally, is the great shock absorber of society… The shock absorber itself has been shocked.” Credit: Jann Freed for Training.

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