Welcome to Belle’s Guide to Work & Life, a biweekly column written by Belle Rose. The column will run every other Thursday and cover topics like how to behave in the workplace. You can follow Belle by visiting her blog or adding her on Facebook.
For many of us, the month of August signals the end of a carefree summer and a transition into the school year. Whether you are a teacher like myself, a student, or have students at home, this month is usually full of excitement and nervousness. Although there are still a few beautiful days left to be enjoyed, most of us are spending them preparing to go back to the grind. The days become shorter, to-do lists get longer, and there is less time for rest and relaxation. It’s a continuous conundrum. How do we live enjoyable, fulfilling lives with so many other responsibilities needing our attention?
To answer this question, I enlisted the help of Professional Career Coach Julie Cohen. She is the author of Your Work, Your Life… Your Way and has helped hundreds of clients on the road to successful, balanced lives.
When surveying her clients’ needs, Cohen found that most professionals regardless of age worried about the topic. “No matter what they came to me for, mostly everyone had issues with work-life balance,” she says. So, what is work-life balance and how do we know if we’re achieving a healthy proportion?
“There isn’t one definition of work-life balance,” Cohen begins. “It’s critical that the individual defines what that means to them. It’s very unique.”
According to Cohen, there are two myths: one, that there is a concrete definition of work-life balance, and second, that there is a uniform way to evaluate your progress.
“What I want for everyone is an overall feeling of personal and professional satisfaction,” Cohen says. “So, if we’re aware of our preferences and challenges that we might have, we can make deliberate choices that can move us toward that more balanced state.”
You must have a clear vision of what balanced means to you. Maybe this means spending more time with friends, getting to the gym three times a week, or eating a healthy diet. “When they have that vision, that’s where we start looking at the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Then in the coaching process we look at what’s preventing them from moving in that direction,” Cohen says.
In her book, Cohen discusses what she calls the “7 Keys to Work-Life Balance.” They include things like being clear in your priorities, setting boundaries, and engaging in self care. One thing you can do to have a healthier work-life balance today is to look at how you take care of yourself, Cohen says. If exercising, eating healthy, or seeing friends is essential to your work-life balance, make it a priority.
“We need to be well in order to do all that we need to do,” she says. Many assume that pouring everything into your work without taking care of yourself will lead to better work when in fact, the opposite is usually true. Becoming a better you always leads to better work.
As the summer is winding down and football season is just around the corner, I challenge you all to think about your definition of a balanced life. What is your vision? I also recommend you pick up Julie Cohen’s book Your Work, Your Life… Your Way to find more tips to enhance your own work-life balance. As for me, I’ll be soaking up the last of the sunshine and setting my own goals for the upcoming school year.