We all say we want it: Career-life balance. But sometimes, trying to find it can feel a bit like searching for giant squid in the South Pacific—or for Nessie in Loch Ness. You’re pretty sure it exists, somewhere, but actually grabbing it by the tail is another matter.
I felt the same way, once. But over the years I’ve discovered that career-life balance isn’t really all that difficult to achieve. Like yoga, or Tai Chi, or any other practice, it just takes a bit of time and discipline to master. First you need to learn the basic techniques; then, you can start to practice them.
Your first step is to determine which areas of your life you want to improve and/or pay more attention to. If you’re not sure, revisit the Wheel of Life. Draw a circle on a piece of paper, and divide it like a pizza into 8 sections: career, money, spirituality, friends and family, recreation, personal growth, physical fitness and health, and marriage/significant other.
Now, on a scale of 1 to 10, rate your satisfaction in each area. Be honest, even if it makes you feel guilty. When you’re done, you’ll have a snapshot of your current career life balance (or lack thereof). Don’t automatically go for the lowest number, or try to focus on everything at once; pick one or two key areas to work on. Also, be aware that working in one area can help to improve others. For example: if you want to spend more time with your family, organize a hiking trip, a golf game, or a day at the playground. You’ll be upping your fitness level (and theirs) while still focusing on your primary goal, which is quality time.
If you’re not the sketching type, check out CNN’s online Work Life Balance Calculator. It’s a good on-screen visual tool to help you find your personal balance.
The current economy has put a lot of people into worry mode, and many have stopped engaging in the activities that used to help them find their balance because of financial concerns. If you’re out of work or concerned about losing your job, or just a little tight in the finance department, you don’t need to give up fun activities. Just look for more creative ways to do them! Here are some ideas: