Balancing your life does not happen automatically. Life is fluid, so therefore balance is fluid, and we need to be flexible to achieve and maintain it.
Since life changes constantly, it is important to look at your life and determine what is important to you, what you can control, and what you value. Openly recognizing that balance takes effort and is an ongoing process can reduce your frustration and help determine what you can control and change. Creating and maintaining a balanced life is a conscious decision.
You can start by asking:
- Do you successfully schedule time in your day to do the things you want to do?
- Can you participate in meaningful activities with family/friends without feeling anxious or talking about work?
- Do you participate in activities without the gnawing feeling that you have work to complete?
If you answered no to any of these questions then the following tips may be helpful:
- Start by writing down your goals. Writing down your goals helps you focus on what you want to accomplish. Putting your goals in writing makes it easier to set a time line to complete them, for example if you want to go to dinner with a friend or work on a project at home.
- Examine your values. When you are trying to make a choice, ask yourself what your values are; what’s most important to you? This will help to make decisions easier. Sometimes work will need to take precedence over your personal life, but looking at your values will help provide clarity and get you to think about your decisions instead of just reacting. Knowing where you stand on your values can make tough choices easier.
- Recognize that imbalance is sometimes inevitable. Taking a step back and assessing how things are going can give you insight into making positive changes.
- Sometimes your job and other responsibilities will need to come first. Don’t just allow work and other responsibilities to take over – make it a conscious decision. Think about options and make an active decision when you should make work your priority.
- Look for new opportunities in your schedule. Your work schedule may have some flexibility or may change, allowing you to build in more personal time. Evaluate your schedule on a regular basis and look for these opportunities.
- Home needs balance. When one family member takes on too many responsibilities it can cause resentment in the family. Checking in with your family will help to keep your work life balance in perspective and make choices that benefit everyone.
Having a more balanced life has positive outcomes for relationships, children and everyone’s happiness. Keeping this in mind may help to make decisions that help you balance your life.
- Be aware of how many hours you are really working. Everyone needs down time at work but be aware of how much down time you have built in. If you are at work 12 hours, are you really working 12 hours or 10 hours? You may find more time for yourself outside of work in those two hours.
- Improve your time management skills. You need learn to delegate what you can to help find more time for your family and friends. It is important to learn to say “no”. You may not be able to say it at work very often, but look at your other obligations and take things off your plate that don’t need to be there, things that aren’t associated with your values.
Please call the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling at (410) 685-7878, ext. 3041 or (800) 492-1964. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, CAC, is Program Counselor for the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program.