It seems weird to write a blog post regarding work/life balance while being on a back-to-back overseas business trip. Actually, it could not be a better time.
Working in a “stretch” environment may make you feel as though you are burning the candle at both ends. In these situations, it is easy to feel like you are overwhelmed with work. However, if it were all strictly “work,” it would not be worth it.
Over the years, I have worked with many intelligent people. Individuals, who are extremely driven and committed to their jobs, yet nevertheless encounter major setbacks. They may derail their careers at a company or face a significant challenge caused by their own actions. Why? They are often “in the weeds” and find it difficult to be objective with certain challenges.
When these individuals encounter difficult situations, their first instincts are to work harder. In the past, this approach has always worked for them. If it does not, they become even more diligent, and so on, until they end up burning out. Occasionally, their personal value system becomes so tenacious, they find it troublesome relating to others.
As successful individuals take on more and more responsibility, the challenges they face are not the same. The biggest obstacle for those who have succeeded based on pure effort and individual contribution is that their path to further success becomes singularly dependent on the team getting the job done. Quite simply, the tasks are too large or numerous for a single person to resolve on their own. A flameout might be a better description of what can happen.
Finding Your Professional Why
Start by asking yourself, “Why am I doing this?”
- Is it for personal achievement or fulfillment?
- Is it purely for financial reasons?
- Is it because you do not have an alternative option?
Hopefully, you have freedom when it comes to selecting your line of work. Having a range of choices, as well as a say in your career path, increases your chances of success and engagement – often enabling you to spend less time accomplishing the same amount of work, or even better, completing more. If you fall into the early 20’s age range and are fresh out of school, I find answering this question can further fuel you through tough stretches that you are likely to come across.
Finding Your Personal Why
On the other side of the ledger, do you have a personal life? Does it involve family, friends, or personal interests? How much time and what activities are involved? I would define these items as the type of activities that recharge you when you participate in them.
What about your health? Do you feel as though you are lacking in this area? Please do not push this aside for another time. You should focus on your nutrition and overall fitness as soon as possible. Now is the time to make these consistent priorities in your life. There are no guarantees that your body will respond the way you want it to at a later period (by the way, it also makes you perform better at work).
Now, where does the balance lie between the two ‘why’s’? There will be instances where the equilibrium shifts (completely to one or the other). The key is to remain balanced as much as possible within a monthly, or even, weekly basis.
Early on in your career, when you may still be single and have limited responsibilities, it is common to be highly focused on your career. Of course, you should still expose yourself to other experiences. This time away from work will actually make you better at your occupation.
Chartering the Right Course For You
You need to work your schedule at a macro level, often reflecting on where you are consistently spending your time. At work, there are key peak times where things will become overwhelming and you will need to dig deep to complete tasks on tight deadlines. During these times, stepping out of your professional environment and into your personal life can provide you a fresh perspective.
A change of perspective can help you to do a better job, both in the office and at home. Feeling that you are accomplishing your goals on many levels can provide you the confidence to reach for even higher objectives.
I encourage you, no matter how young you may be, to sit down and think of what you truly want in life. Choose the balance you believe will sustain you through demanding weeks. Focus on work that will deeply engage you.
Define specific personal goals that will enable you to have a wide range of experiences to pull from when you come across any professional challenges.