You want a flashy career and a good work-life balance. I can tell you that this is a big ask, although not impossible. But how do you find the balance in this? Well, at least not by wanting to get the most out of all areas.
Just to get straight to the point: you just can’t have everything. Being at work 60 hours a week and having a vibrant social life, and being in the gym every day, and being an involved parent and/or partner? Dream on. Getting the full hundred percent out of it in all areas is simply not possible, one is at the expense of the other. Wanting everything at once is a good recipe to help yourself to burn out.
Read on and find out why it is nonsense that the work-life balance should be 50/50 or anything near it. You can really reach a perfect balance when you would be your own boss. Read the end to find out how to do this!
Joyfully out of balance
The word work-life balance suggests that work and private life should be perfectly balanced, but that is a great misunderstanding. Therefore the term might not be very suitable at all. It’s bullshit that there always has to be a balance between the two. That’s not the point.
It’s about having the flexibility to sometimes prioritize one thing and sometimes the other. If you need to step on the gas at work, you need to slow down in another area. And if your private life requires extra attention, for example, due to an extra care task, you should have some space at work to take it easy. If you have that flexibility, then things can be cheerfully out of balance.
Combining is better
Many experts call it a misconception that the ‘balance’ should always be 50/50. You don’t spend the same amount of time in different areas of life. There is also not the two only, because private again includes all kinds of subdomains. Combining is a more appropriate word than balance. Not everyone thinks the same is important to know. One can also have a lot more than the other and may not have a problem with long days at all.
According to the experts, if the balance shifts more towards work, that need not be a disaster. This is the choice everybody has and can make. If you’re just starting out on the job market and fancy a flashy career, it’s not so bad if you have less time for other things. The combination of work and private life then looks different than with someone who wants children and who wants to go a little slower in terms of a career.
What feels good?
But make sure that it is actually a choice and that you are not lived only by your flashy career. According to labor specialists, the main question is: what makes you feel good? Make clear to yourself: how do you want to organize your life, what do you find important, what do you want to achieve and what do you have to do for that? Then it’s easier to say no to things that don’t contribute to them. And reflect on it over time: do you still want this?
If you find it difficult to answer these kinds of questions yourself, you can do it together with someone else, for example with a coach. Think about your priorities. Do you want to be able to work 60 hours a week? Fine, but that does mean that it comes at the expense of some of your private life. So, you better find out what such a flashy career is worth to you?
There’s nothing wrong with hard work in itself, as long as you don’t get ahead of yourself. People think you should eliminate stress from your life as much as possible, but that’s not true at all. Your body can handle some stress. In fact, you kind of need it.
But in between those peak moments, you have to recover enough. You also see this with top athletes: they train hard to achieve top performance, but in the meantime, they consciously pay attention to rest, sleep well and take good care of themselves. That is part of delivering that performance. The same goes for your career. You can handle quite a bit of stress, as long as you make sure you have enough space at home for recovery. That will be the trick.
Recipe for Chronic Stress
Stop working every now and then. Agree very clearly with yourself from when to when your working day will run. Using the strategy that your working day only ends when the work is done is a good recipe for chronic stress. It starts with accepting that there will come a point when you have a lot of work left but still have to stop because it’s better for yourself.
And also take good care of yourself physically: sleep well, eat healthily, exercise regularly and take breaks, make sure there are enough moments in your day that you are not in front of a screen. Those basic things make it easier to carry a heavy task.
Don’t forget the importance of social life. After a bad day at work, you feel a lot better when you have a nice dinner with a friend afterward. These two domains enrich each other. If you only focus on work, you lose it. It can also be lonely. Social support is super important. You have to have people around you with whom you can’t talk about work for a while, who stimulate and support you.
Contact your boss
And don’t hesitate to call your employer if it becomes all too much for you, the experts agree. If you notice that your private life needs a little more attention, communicate that to your employer. Be open about it to your manager in good time. “I’m finding that this is difficult to combine, can we look at that?” You may be able to take extra time or put projects on the back burner. In their experience, something is often possible, especially if you are clear about what is going on and indicate it in time.
People are often afraid that they will be seen as less ambitious as a result, but if you don’t discuss it, nothing will change anyway. In addition, employers often understand this, they are just not used to it. The funny thing is that the perception is that you can only have a flashy career if you put a lot of time into it. While that says nothing about the quality of your work. We all make it a rat race, but that is not necessarily the case. You can also achieve a lot without working extremely long hours. What is it they say? Work smart, not hard!
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