We’ve all felt it: work too much and you feel bad. Take time off to recover and then return to a pile-up of work. It’s a never-ending cycle. Many may be all too familiar with this vicious cycle and dream of a more virtuous one that resembles real work-life balance. For years, experts have pushed this concept on the workforce, however, work-life balance is one of the most harmful myths of the workplace.
Of course, we would all love to be balanced, but the truth is the balance of work implies having work and life on two different sides — fighting to not outweigh the other. This “balance” develops into a tug-of-war of your time and energy. Unfortunately, this energetic see-saw can lead to either feelings of resentment towards your work or your work completely consuming your sense of sense of self and identity.
Don’t worry. There’s a better way.
Meet the Concept of Work-Life Alignment
What is work-life alignment? Work-life alignment encourages us to examine all domains of life — family, professional, friends, even the mind and our mental health as a domain — as units that can all be aligned toward a common goal or purpose. The result? An integrated and harmonic life.
Wondering how to get started?
Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study looking to find the best methods of creating a more sustainable and rewarding work life. After hearing from an array of professionals, they found a cycle of five steps that helped to achieve better alignment between professional and personal commitments and priorities.
Here’s where to start:
1. Pause and reflect.
Take some time to ask yourself: What is currently causing me stress, imbalance, or dissatisfaction? How are these emotions affecting my performance? My personal life? What am I prioritizing and what am I having to sacrifice? Asking yourself these questions can help you acknowledge the factors that are causing you to struggle. Identifying and naming these concerns will allow you to tackle them.
2. Notice your emotions.
Now that you are aware of your current situation, ask yourself how do I feel? Do you feel full and energized? Or, angry and sad? Recognizing the effects your work life has on you is important in order to help you determine what changes you need to make.
Okay, so now you have the needed perspective, what comes next? Identifying what you have been prioritizing and if this is in alignment with your current priorities and goals. Reprioritizing is an essential cycle of a positive work-life alignment.
4. Consider alternatives.
Before rushing to a solution, consider all the aspects of your work and personal life that could be altered to better align with your priorities. Perhaps that’s reconsidering how much time you set aside for family or hobbies or is focusing on a component of your work that you would like changed? Whatever it is, make sure to consider all your options to find the best solution for you.
5. Implement changes.
Finally, now that you’ve evaluated your emotions, and focused on your priorities, it’s time to take action. Whether that be a “public” change — such as shifting to a compressed-week model or scaling back your hours — or a “private” change, where you informally change your work patterns or how much energy you give to a certain situation. Both of these changes can be effective — it’s all about what works best for you!
No matter what your work situation is, regularly evaluating if it’s in alignment with all of the other domains in your life can set you up for a virtuous (not vicious) cycle of continual growth and evolution, minimizing the amount of time you feel stuck and maximizing the amount of time you’re in flow.
Looking for more personalized support? Considering the benefits of executive coaching by The NU Company.