It can seem almost impossible to find a consistent balance between the demands of work and the pursuits of everyday life. Work life balance is a concept that affects a vast amount of people since it applies to universal aspects of the average person’s lifestyle. It is true that most people define themselves strongly by their work, from the type of job they rely on to take care of their wants and needs, to such details as how well they get compensated, how their occupation compares to others, and how far up the proverbial ladder they can climb within their chosen profession. Then when that person gets home from work, there is a whole other world of concerns and objectives to manage so that one’s personal life can carry along in a constructive and enjoyable enough manner to be satisfied on a day-to-day basis.
Work life balance has been the subject of a significant degree of analysis, mainly regarding the role it plays within peoples’ sense of psychological health. Between work and life, most times the trend is that the former usually wins out as the primary focus for people seeking a sense of well-being and stability. Most people tend to get lured into placing their personal interests on the back burner and tasking themselves mainly with meeting the demands of their occupation. The potential outcome of this imbalance obviously carries some troubling ramifications and can be the reason for immense level of discomfort and dysfunction.
The Mayo Clinic shares some common consequences that can come from suffering under poor work-life balance.
First is fatigue. When work is demanding enough that a person always feels tired, their ability to be productive will be compromised greatly, and they will not have the stamina to maintain their professional reputation or avoid dangerous and costly mistakes. Second is poor health, which can result from dealing with too much work-related distress. In this case, a person’s health can be affected, especially if they have a pre-existing medical condition. Some professionals also take to participating in substance abuse to process the pressures that come with the job, which of course can culminate in seriously dire complications. Third is lost time with family and friends, which is likely the most popular concern that people have when they are judging the overall value of their chosen profession, especially during the hiring process. A person could become convinced that to perform at their work in a complete enough fashion, they should sacrifice how present they chose to be in their personal life as a tradeoff that will pay off well in the long run. This can generate a powerful sense of resentment and regret from missing important personal milestones, like a child’s first steps, or parties with close friends celebrating great accomplishments, or holiday vacations with the chance to connect with beloved family members in a special manner (1).
When it comes to getting over the possible pitfalls of poor work-life balance, Forbes shares some tips from health and career experts on how to avoid being held back by these types of issues.
The first tip is to avoid the direct pursuit for perfectionism. Experts suggest that removing a self-imposed commitment to absolute perfectionism can do wonders for diminishing stress and facilitating greater focus that can benefit every aspect of one’s life, not just the specific work task that is in front of them. The second tip is for workers to unplug, since it is easy to observe the strong presence that technology has within modern society. This can help tremendously, particularly because the average person can end up interfacing with tech software and devices for almost the entire time they are awake, from their work shift of eight hours or more, to immersing themselves in their smartphones during work lunch and break times, to getting on the computer and engaging in social media for the rest of the night once they get home. Experts recommend that unplugging can be beneficial for helping people restore a sense of personal control and balance (2).
There is also a school of thought that does not consider the search for work-life balance to be a valid approach at all. In an article called Give Up On Work-Life Balance, the idea is presented that taking on a quest to achieve work-life balance could end up being just as stressful and problematic as the issues that would lead one to do so in the first place. For example, the article suggests the alternative of handling each department of one’s life on a seasonal basis. As opposed to making sure each aspect of your lifestyle is juggled proportionately, which in all fairness can seem like a Herculean feat to say the least, you could devote your primary focus to one department of your life at a time until it is satisfied, then move on to taking care of the next one (3).
Wherever one chooses to land on the issue, it is reasonable to acknowledge that the relationship between work and lifestyle is worth a concerted degree of attention, since work is so essential to a person facilitating the important wants and needs of themselves and their loved ones. The concept of work-life balance is worth a look, considering the usefulness it can present in helping people consistently feel well-adjusted, healthy, and happy.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/work-life-balance/art-20048134.
- Lee, D.J. (2014). 6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahlee/2014/10/20/6-tips-for-better-work-life-balance/?sh=6379a7d329ff.
- Khazan, O. (2019). Give Up On Work-Life Balance. The Atlantic. https://amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/590662/.