Seven Steps to a Happier Work Life Balance
In my last blog post we explored Step One: Being clear about what’s truly important to you (your personal core values). If you’ve not read it, you’ll find that post here.
So, what if you do feel unhappy with the amount of time you’re spending at work?
Realistically, with mortgages and bills to pay, many of us don’t have the luxury of being able to choose not to work, or to spend less time working, even if we wanted to. Which means our best choice is to do what we can to make the time we spend at work more enjoyable.
If you’re feeling unhappy with the amount of time you spend at work, I’m guessing one of the following is at play for you:
- You feel guilty about the fact you spend so much time doing something you really love (aka “aaargh I should really be spending more time with my kids”)
- You are tired and stressed because of the amount of juggling you’re doing outside of work, with little help to do it.
- You don’t love your job and so spending so much of your precious time doing it frustrates the pants off you (when you could be doing so many things that are more worthwhile/more enjoyable)
In the case of 1) I recommend tackling the guilt, and continuing to reap the rewards of the sense of achievement and fulfilment that your work gives you. (Get in touch if you’d like to talk more about how you can work with me to achieve this!)
If you’ve answered 2) that sounds less about the work and more about the rest of your life… I’ve got another post coming up for you in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for it!
If you’re more of a 3) kind of woman, then I have a question for you:
What’s stopping you from finding work that means you’ll feel happier about spending that amount of time doing it?
Whether that’s finding a new job in a different type of organisation, finding a different type of role at the company you currently work for, or building a totally new type of career.
The positive psychologists have come up with an equation for happiness:
Happiness = pleasure + meaning
Actually, in the workplace, if you add “using your strengths” to that equation, this gives the ideal work scenario, to feel happiness at work.
Do you feel your current work has pleasure, and meaning, and uses your strengths? If not, what would? In a kind of handy circular way, we’re back at Step One from last week’s blog post, because a good place to start is thinking about your personal values. When your job involves all your core values, doing it is likely to be a pleasurable experience – most of the time, at least – and may well also give you the sense of it having meaning, because it’s in line with what actually matters to you.
For many years, I regularly spent more than 50 hours each week working, once the commute was taken into account. In fact regularly it was 60, 70 hours or more. I did what I could to make those hours as family-friendly as possible: worked evenings when they were in bed, worked a day from home most weeks to reduce wasted commuting time, worked through my lunch hours so I could get more done during the day, finished early two days per week so I could pick the kids up from school (no, I wasn’t even on a full time contract). But still, by any measure it was a lot of hours to be working.
For many, I’m sure this sounds like waaaaaay too much time for a mother to spend at work and still feel happy. But you know what? For me, it wasn’t, because I loved my work. I felt truly fortunate to have a job that was, despite the pressure and the responsibility, one that was so enjoyable it felt like a hobby.
And there’s the point. When you are happy at work, it becomes something you are doing for yourself. It actually feeds the soul rather than draining it. And the amount of time you spend doing it is therefore less of a thorn in your quest for a happy work-life balance, because the positives you gain (achievement, pleasure, direction, purpose, building relationships, making a difference) outweigh the downsides (less time doing other things for yourself, less time to juggle the general life chores that need doing).
In fact, when you do work you truly love, when work and passions collide, you often find you actually don’t need as much time out of work, because the time you spend working gives you so many of the feelings and experiences you need to cram into life outside of work when you don’t enjoy your job.
If you’d like help to make a change to your career please get in touch to find out more about working with me.