Are you balanced in work and life?


Eric (anonym) is in his forties, a mainstay at home and at work. He is zealous about his work, where he can find a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. He works really busy and travels a lot. He has to leave his 3-year-old son to his wife and his mother. The kid recently went to Kindergarten and the teacher already informed the parents several times of his son’s trouble of getting along with other kids. Eric, who could neither blame his wife directly, nor educate the boy in person, had a few arguments with his wife on the phone. Worrying about his family, Eric couldn’t concentrate on work and felt rather depressed. He felt physically and mentally exhausted and even worried about sinking into depression. Therefore, he reached the EAP consultant for help.

Did you feel that at some stage of life, you became a slave to time and felt exhausted every day without sense of accomplishment or could merely reach the pass line of life? Or you felt you were walking on a thin wire and might just slip and fall into the abyss without even notice? Obviously, Eric is now in such a predicament.

There is no standard answer to the question “how to reach a work-life balance”, as everyone has their unique balance point unshared by others. It depends on one’s personal style –which do you find more enjoyable, family life, being alone or work?

What is your goal in life? What can bring you satisfaction? It also depends on the environment – are you required to work harder for material rewards? Is there anyone helping you take care of your family? Finally, it also depends on the specific lifecycle you are in - new baby, or parents’ illness as such might require you to put more efforts in your family affairs.

Work-life balance is a dynamic balance requiring us to constantly check the change of balance point and make appropriate adjustments. If you have a clear understanding of your balance point, the following suggestions may help you do better.

1、Adjust your expectations
Set a goal matched with your ability, drop the idea of an almighty self, accept that one’s energy is limited and everybody needs to rest and relax. Proper relaxation is required to make a balanced life. Reasonable expectations include doing a job well aligned to your ability, developing a household spending plan matching with income and maintaining a friend circle as your time and energy allow, etc.

2、Keep hands off sometimes
Do I need to drop my work and return to family, spending more time with my son? This is what bothers Eric most. To answer this question, we need to figure out the real needs of his family. His son is in an age when he is incapable of self-regulation of mood and actions, so parents need to show their empathy as well as establish some family rules; his wife, who could barely pull herself out from both work and life, surely needs her husband’s understanding, recognition, appreciation and care; also, the mother and daughter-in-law relationship is not so easy under one roof. Both of them need Eric’s care and consolation in life. Once we get that clear, it’s no longer hard for Eric to find a solution and meet the family’s demand more efficiently.

The same is true in work. As a person in charge, if Eric spends more time on training and supervising the staff, he would need to spend less time for better performance. Whether in work or life, one needs to delegate duly and meanwhile, don’t forget to offer encouragement, support and resources required to solve problems.

3、Live in the moment
If you keep worrying about things out of your capacities, it will greatly reduce your work efficiency. However, whether dealing with work or family, if you are dedicated enough in the process and fully engage your mind and body in the moment, you will achieve better efficiency. Also, by doing that you’ll greatly save the time and energy required for accustoming yourself to different tasks, thus earning you more efficient work hours.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that in recent years people began to pay attention to a new concept – work-life integration, which, in simple terms, means to take some work home and a part of your life to workplace. Of course it will require more flexibility of your employer, clearer scope of work and a more independent work style. However, in fact we are already doing that in some way or another, which you might not yet realize. For example, you might read a work-related book after work or communicate with your colleagues about parenting knowledge during lunch time, etc. If we ponder on it, there might not be a clear boundary between work and life. Once you break your mindset, you will create a more flexible state of balance.

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