For many driven people with successful companies, the balance between work and private life does not exist. It’s not because they don’t have a desire to spend time with their families, run a killer business, and do things that excite them personally. It’s because “balance” doesn’t exist as most people think of it. It’s not just about vacation time and PTO, flexible work schedules and telecommuting – it’s so much more.
Take a moment and imagine that you are doing something you love. Does it mean your mind wanders to something other than that one thing? Most likely not.
In personal development books, authors talk all the time about how to be so much more productive the day before the vacation because you know you’ll be leaving the next day. Why is that? Because it is not a balanced effort. It’s a full sprint to the goal.
Each of these three areas – family, personal, and business – are interconnected. They live and breathe together, but they are not the same. They do different things for your life, for your desires and for the final result of achievement.
When you hear the term “work-life balance,” you may feel like you’re failing at everything if the aspects of your life aren’t always given equal attention. We will all fail at some things, at least sometimes. Therefore, work-life balance is not only a false pretext, it can also be dangerous. While it’s important to have some flexibility and recognize when to switch that focus, it has to be all or nothing to be truly effective. Instead of trying to focus on all things at once, learn to keep all your attention on one thing at a time.
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What is the work-life balance?
The way we now think about work-life balance is completely misleading. It’s not about making time for our well-being while everything else is on our minds. It should be about taking time for each thing and committing fully to that time frame — and making that philosophy your lifestyle.
Think about it. It’s not the best idea to think about all the work you have to do while you’re cooking; getting too distracted can burn the food. Are you going to watch your favorite shows while playing with your kids? That’s not a good idea unless you want them to get mad at you. Just like texting and driving, different aspects of your life require your full attention to get the best out of you. Doing too much of one thing can lead to all sorts of problems in every aspect of your life.
If you’re someone with a particularly demanding career, work-life balance can be especially tiring. Concentrating so much during your workday can easily mean you want to run home as soon as possible.
You don’t want to be stressed all day mentally taking your work home with you. This is the fastest path to burnout and can take a huge toll on your overall mental health. How can you have fun at work when your work environment flows into your home? That’s another reason why it’s important to have a personal life in which you can completely turn off your work.
Plus, you can improve your performance by devoting 100% of your attention to your work during working hours. This can lead to raises or other benefits that can positively impact other aspects of your life. But it is also the other way around. When you’re not in the workplace, it’s best not to think about the stress of work. Your career isn’t going anywhere, and making a real effort to have a healthy work-life balance is best for not just yourself, but everyone around you.
On the job, you want someone with a specific task to be extremely focused, clear about the goal, dial in, and perform the activity. This is especially true for leadership. You can’t do a lot of different things in your business at the same time.
Now there are different personality types that can do different things quite well. But this is no excuse to let your mind wander in all directions. If you focus on too many places at once, you may take longer to get things done or may not get anything done at all. Or, if you do get things done, the results aren’t satisfactory.
If you’re trying to relax with your family or work on hobbies, how are you supposed to relax while still working? The stress won’t go away if it’s just pushed to the back of your head until you’re back at work.
We all have our own lives and it’s important to protect that space. Our family life can be both relaxing and stressful. Things like buying houses, keeping up with homework, and making sure kids are safe and generally looked after can also negatively impact our mental health and stress.
When all these things are going on, it can be dangerous to lose focus. If you’re too preoccupied with your working life to really pay attention to what your kids are doing, it could lead to someone getting hurt. Plus, kids can notice if you’re not actually there. When kids are playing, they usually want all your attention. They want to feel appreciated and that other things are not more important than they are. The same can be said about a spouse or other relatives.
Part of showing others you care is being in the moment with them. Think of all the times you’ve tried to have a conversation with someone who had their attention on their phone. It’s no fun being on the receiving end of someone who doesn’t focus on one thing, especially when you’re trying to build or maintain a relationship or when you have something important to say.
We all need vacations and this is where personal life comes in. Think of every moment you take time for yourself as a mini-vacation from the responsibilities of your life. Some people don’t make this time for themselves and may feel that their work hours never end thanks to everything that happens at work and at home. Your personal life should be all about you and about what you want to do. Be selfish with it.
Not taking a vacation because you’re too busy at work? Be careful. Overwork can cause health problems — one study even found that when your professional life overwhelms your social life, you’re at greater risk of contracting the flu.
In addition, think about any hobbies you have that require your focus and dedication. Crafts and sports are just two examples of fun activities that can easily go wrong if you don’t give them your all. Knitting, for example, allows you to create new things, but if you don’t pay attention to your stitches, you can easily mess up a project. Or if you play basketball, how are you going to get a shot if you don’t pay attention to the hoop?
What are the benefits of a healthy work-life balance?
Having a healthy work-life balance gives your mind the focus it needs to actually get things done so you can take pride in your achievements, whatever they may be. But think of all the ways that everything could improve if you lived a more balanced life.
Less stress and better mental health
We’ve already talked about how you can become less stressed if you focus on one thing at a time. But stress is a real health hazard that should be reduced as much as possible. Stress can cause all kinds of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, anxiety and more. All those things can land you in the hospital. Proactive self-care and living a balanced life can be a way to seriously reduce stress and get the most out of your life.
As we said before, people like it when you give them attention. They appreciate that you are willing to focus on them and they will be willing to do the same for you.
Not being stressed can only make you happier. But more importantly, sharpen your mind so you can focus on being happy. If you don’t take your relationship with yourself seriously, you let your mind wander to all sorts of other things when all you should be thinking about is. It makes you less happy with yourself and less happy in general. Putting yourself first in your personal life is a sign that you value yourself, and you recognize that you are doing your best when you take care of your needs.
More creative thinking
If your mind isn’t bogged down by all kinds of stress, you can have more varied thoughts, which can lead to great ideas. Being more creative can help you in all aspects of your life. At work, you can bring your best ideas to the table and help others in ways you couldn’t before. At home and with your family, you can come up with new games or ways to play with your kids, date nights with your partner, dinner recipes and more. You may pick up new hobbies or find yourself wanting to learn skills in your spare time. The possibilities are endless if you don’t limit your mind with stress.
When you let go of this misconception of what a work-life balance is, the more interested and engaged you are in the moment and the more you can actually enjoy the things around you.
It’s time to stop trying to balance everything and realize you can’t. Instead, be more focused in the moment on what’s ahead. Put your phone down, look people in the eye and be present.
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