The average weight of a dinner plate is 2.2 pounds; add food and a metal cover and that can easily go to 3-5 pounds. Now load 10 of those onto a serving tray and try to lift it onto your shoulder and carry it across a room of people without dropping it. This is much easier said than done, but it is possible with one essential element – balance. You can have all the strength in the world and it will still come crashing down if you do not distribute the weight in its proper place. This concept can apply to many areas of life; especially in the workplace.
So how does one find this balance? This can vary from generation, culture and background, but here are some general areas in which this balance can be challenging to maneuver and some suggestions on how to adjust the load.
Recognize the need:
First and foremost is recognizing there is a need for this balance in work and life. A report on Attitudes in the American Workplace found that 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. Having and maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace.
Be happy, not just satisfied:
“Most people chase success at work, thinking that will make them happy. The truth is that happiness at work will make you successful.” – Alexander Kjerulf, “The Chief Happiness Officer”
There is a word found only in Scandinavian languages – Arbejdsglaede. It means “Happiness at Work.” Being happy is not the same thing as being satisfied. You can have the greatest PTO policy, 401k plan and all the free snacks in the world and still dread coming into work every day. Having strong relationships with your boss and coworkers can have an enormous impact on your emotional well-being and longevity.
Another step is knowing what plates to stack where. An integral part of work-life balance is being able to have boundary control. We live in an era of unprecedented technology and the ability to access any person at any time for any reason. Setting specific limits on when work is work and when it’s not can reduce that feeling of always being feeling like you are “on the job” 24/7.
Manage the expectations of yourself and others:
We are all responsible for 24 hours in a day and what we do with them. What we think we can do and what we can actually do can be vastly different. Being honest with yourself and others about what you can commit to or accomplish will help clear up misunderstandings and alleviate undue stress. If you are tasked with a deadline or an assignment that you know you cannot deliver, speak up!
This concept of creating a healthy work-life balance will continue to grow and change with time. There will always be heavy loads that need balancing in order to carry them. Recognizing the need, finding happiness, creating boundaries and managing expectations are all tools to help lift it.