Work-life balance isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s a feeling that your work and life are in harmony – and only you can recognize when that is true. Because so many corporations sell products that supposedly lead to balance, it’s hard to know how to truly find it. Fortunately, there is research which provides tips for how to actually achieve better balance. And they may not be what you think! Read more to learn these tips, and to accelerate your journey toward better balance.
Grow Your Psychological Capital to Boost Balance
First, in order to find balance, you need to get yourself out of a negative mindset. While it sounds cliche, the research very strongly suggests that positively-minded people see more positivity around them. But, it can be hard to shift yourself into a more positive way of thinking. Just telling yourself to think happy thoughts won’t work.
There is a resource called psychological capital, which we have spent a lot of our time discussing and teaching about. The good thing about psychological capital is that you can grow and develop it over time. It’s not something you’re born with. Psychological capital has four components: optimism, self-efficacy, hope, and resilience. If you are more optimistic, you expect that positive things will happen to you in general. Self-efficacious individuals have confidence that they can tackle challenges in work and life. Those who have hope continue coming up with ways to achieve difficult goals. And those who are resilient bounce back more easily from failure.
For improving work-life balance, if you think you can find balance – and also tackle challenges to your balance – that helps you to keep striving toward it. If you are willing to strategize ways to ensure that you have time and energy to do the things that bring you balance, you will feel more balanced. Finally, if you fail at finding balance one day (or month, or year!), you will be willing to try again next time. Overall, psychological capital helps you to find work-life balance because you want to, and believe you can.
Improve Balance by Focusing on Enrichment
Next, those who have better balance are more likely focus on the ways that their work and life enrich each other. Work-life enrichment occurs when you notice how your work makes your life better and vice versa. For example, you might find that joining a philanthropic effort in your community gives you leadership skills that help at work. Or you could notice that a stretch project you took on at work is helping you to learn how to better organize your schedule outside of work.
Sometimes it’s easier to get caught up in how work and life interrupt one another – and that’s valid. But, it’s also useful to counterbalance those thoughts with a focus on how they improve one another too. When you take time to notice the little ways that your work and life enhance each other, you are more likely to grow a sense of balance. Otherwise, the good moments fall by the wayside, and the bad moments are the star of the show.
Decrease Job Demands to Boost Balance
Finally, when employees are overloaded with work, it’s hard to find balance. If you are constantly being bombarded with emails or DMs, you will find it challenging to find time for the activities that bring balance to your life. Some people like to spend more of their time on work than others do. So, if you’re one of those folks, your formula for balance might include more working hours. But, no one thrives when they are working constantly, and never get a break. That’s a recipe for burnout.
So, if you feel like your balance is impossible because of your work demands, what can you do? Sometimes finding a new job isn’t an option. If it is, you should consider it. If not, you might think about what responsibilities you have at work that might be better suited for someone else. Is there anything you can delegate? Try to think about whether or not efforts will tactically fail if you delegate, and not whether or not you feel guilty about doing so. Can you talk to your manager about your feelings? Are there champions at work who can help you strategize how to cut down your workload? Overall, it’s hard to change the structure of your work – but your balance hangs in the balance! It’s worth a shot to improve your health and happiness.