Dec 092014

What is Important to You and How Would You Like to Be?

Now that Thanksgiving is over, many of us turn our focus to the Christmas holidays. During the holiday season, we tend to take more time to relax and enjoy our family or those important to us. Perhaps we took a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving and are looking forward to four-day weekends for Christmas and New Year’s as well.

Many individuals find it easy to take time off during holidays but difficult to relax and enjoy personal leisure other times of the year. What makes it so difficult to discipline ourselves to enjoy a little more balance during every season? After all, isn’t work-life balance important to us, and doesn’t it help us be what we would like to be?

In theory, work-life balance seems to make sense – splitting our time with our work life and also enjoying personal activities and leisure time. But “work-life balance,” as we traditionally think about it, may not actually exist. Because technology has redefined our leisure time, this is truer today than in the past.

As organizations embrace workforce mobility, opportunities for innovation and communication between team members increase. These increased opportunities to work from home or remotely with colleagues and coworkers causes an overlap of our professional and personal lives.

Research has shown that the world’s mobile worker population will grow to 1.3 billion by 2015 (that’s only one year away). Technology further creates a blur between work and life. Personal ambition and commitment may be some of the reasons, but by encouraging employees to stay connected, even when they are not in the office, companies don’t make it easier for them to get away and enjoy non- work activities.

A Harvard Business School survey showed that 94 percent of professionals work more than 50 hours a week and nearly half work more than 65 hours per week. Employees can face difficult and exhausting conditions that have adverse effects on them as a result. These effects include burn out, health issues, and an increase in workplace violence. Work-life balance is increasingly becoming impossible to obtain.

A recent Forbes article provided the following tips on how to find the balance that is right for you.

  1. Let go of perfectionism. A healthier option is to strive for excellence, not perfectionism.
  2. Make “quality time” true quality time. Shut your phone off and enjoy the moment. By not reacting to the updates from work, you can develop a stronger habit of resilience.
  3. Exercise and meditate. It’s important to refresh your mind, body and soul. Do some sort of exercise, yoga or meditation.
  4. Limit time-wasting activities and people. Identify what’s important in your life and draw boundaries to devote quality time to these high priority people and activities.
  5. Change the structure of your life. Take a birds-eye view of your life and ask what changes can make it easier. Then focus on those activities you specialize in and value most.
  6. Start small. Build from there. If you’re trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there.

Alexander Kjerulf—founder of Woohoo, an international thought leader, and author of topics relating to happiness at work—summed it up nicely when he said, “The ultimate goal is to avoid separating work and life into separate spheres, and find the sweet spot that allows you to do both without neglecting the other.”

As leaders, we want to think about what we can do to make the workplace less difficult and more pleasant for our teams. Employees who are able to balance their work, family and life commitments are likely to stay and contribute more to the organization.

So perhaps the title of this article should be: What’s important for them and how would you like for them to be?

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