In this economy, you might feel pressured to sacrifice a work-life balance just to keep your job. But after you hear the trade-offs, you might reconsider.
A good work-life balance is one in which you work to live, not live to work. We all need to work to pay the mortgage or the rent, put food on the table, and provide for our families. But when you are working so much that you don’t have time to spend with the ones you love, what good is all that money and all those lost hours with your loved ones really worth? Sometimes we get so caught up in work that we forget about our lives and forget to prioritize what’s important. That’s normal. But you, and only you, are in charge of your work-life balance—not your boss.
Things that contribute to a bad work-life balance:
1. Working for someone you abhor
2. Working for a company you despise
3. A long commute or a short one with hellacious traffic
4. Working for a company that doesn’t value your values (e.g., vacation time, flexible schedule, recognition, pay)
Let’s face it: working for someone you hate or for a company you despise is more stressful than you can imagine. You get worked up every time you open an email from your boss, or every time you walk into the office. You despise your meetings with your boss, and you do what you can to avoid him/her.
We all know that a surge in adrenaline caused by severe emotional stress causes the blood to clot more frequently, which increases the risk of having a heart attack. So wouldn’t you want to reduce your stress level by working in a better place or for a better boss?
A long commute is another detriment to your life. Even if you’ve managed to mentally deal with road rage, embraced public transportation, and reduced your carbon footprint, you are still robbing yourself of time—your precious time. Eight or more hours in the car or on the train is the equivalent of working an extra day per week, but you’re only getting paid for five, not six.
You can talk yourself into it any way you want by claiming to multitask from the road, by taking phone calls, having meetings, texting, shaving, putting your makeup on—whatever. But you are still robbing yourself and the people you are interacting with of your full attention. Not to mention that if you are driving while doing these things, you are a danger to society.
Time is a precious thing that we all take for granted when we get into a groove with something. But life can change in an instant. Remember 9/11? Or how about the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake? Life happens, and sometimes we don’t get to do it “tomorrow.”
Your inbox and email will still be there tomorrow. You can miss that supposedly important work meeting and catch up via meeting notes or via a coworker tomorrow. The point is that until you set boundaries, no one else will respect your time. Only you control your work-life balance, so decide how you will react to things, and know that only you can set your boundaries. Take charge of your life again.