Day 5 - Balance 

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Lesson 13

Challenge #5: Keep work at work

Digital tools have increased our productivity and flexibility.

At the same time, this increase in connectedness means we run the risk of burning out and never really leaving the office. Work is always within reach.

Think about how many hours you really spend working.

A study from Harvard Business School reveals that 94% of participants work more than 50 hours per week, while nearly half of respondents claim to work more than 65 hours per week.

The compounding stress from the never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt our relationships, health and overall happiness.

Today’s challenge is to keep work at work. Resist the urge to respond to emails after you get home (or after working hours if you work from home). Instead of talking to your partner or roommate about the latest gossip from work, choose a different subject.

Notice how your energy and mood changes, then journal about your experience.

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Lesson 14

One way to avoid burnout and improve work-life balance is to let go of perfectionism.

Perfectionism involves putting pressure on ourselves to meet high standards which then powerfully influences the way we think about ourselves.

Perfectionists strive for extremely high standards. We set extremely high standards for ourselves and keep pushing ourselves towards reaching them, while putting constant pressure on ourselves to perform. It is likely that we would be constantly feeling on edge, tense, and stressed out.

What’s more, being a perfectionist is not just about doing your best, but doing even better than before, and often pursuing a higher level of performance than you can reasonably reach, which leaves you feeling that even your best efforts aren’t enough.

Perfectionism becomes a problem when we judge our self-worth on the ability to achieve the high standards that we set for ourselves. This makes us particularly vulnerable, because not reaching the standards we set for ourselves (which are likely unachievable) results in feeling like a failure.

What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while we desire success, we are most focused on avoiding failure, so there is always a negative orientation. When we judge our self-worth on our achievements, we’re telling ourselves that we’re not good enough unless we do more, have more, achieve more. We push ourselves toward impossible standards and beat ourselves up when we don’t live up to our flawed image of ourselves.

Pursuing these personally demanding standards can have a significant impact on our wellbeing. Here are a few strategies to overcome perfectionism:

  • Set attainable goals: Remember, it’s progress over perfection. Moving forward in small steps is better than not moving forward at all.
  • Believe you are enough: You are not defined by your achievements. Your worth is not based on whether or not you reach your goals.
  • Act as if you already achieved your goals: Fake it ‘til you make it! Visualizing your accomplishments helps to tell your brain that it’s possible to achieve your dreams.
  • Celebrate your achievements: Small wins help us build confidence over time. It helps to make an ongoing list that you can refer back to in difficult times.

Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? What strategies have you learned to overcome this? What new strategies might you adopt?

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Lesson 15

Achieving balance in our lives also involves balancing all of the elements of wellbeing.

We covered a few this week, but they are:

  • Career
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Community

If we feel “off” in one area of wellbeing, it is likely to impact other areas of our lives.

For example, if we’re struggling financially, we may stop spending time with friends and family, we may cancel our gym membership, and our performance at work may suffer.

The area of wellbeing that has the greatest impact on all other areas is career wellbeing.

Think about it – we often spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our own family!

Having healthy career wellbeing makes us more likely to achieve balance in the other four elements of wellbeing. We’re likely more financially stable, able to give back to our community, socializing with coworkers and friends, and staying physically active.

Unfortunately, 70% of workers are disengaged or unhappy at work, according to a study by Fierce, Inc.

What contributes to these feelings of disengagement or unhappiness?

  • Feeling unappreciated by our direct supervisor
  • Not receiving feedback
  • Not using our strengths and talents to our fullest potential
  • Not aligning with company values
  • Not having friends at work
  • Fear of losing our job

Achieving thriving career balance is possible, despite poor management and a mediocre economy. Here are a few things you can do to improve your career wellbeing:

Ask for feedback

Even if you don’t receive regular feedback from your supervisor, it doesn’t hurt to ask. You can ask for feedback on a specific project, on your strengths or on your contributions to the team.

Determine your values

Sometimes we find ourselves working in an environment that is in conflict with our values, and we don’t even know it! Take an inventory of your core values and what’s important to you in a workplace. Determine if that is in alignment with your current environment. If it’s not, you may need to start looking for a better fit.

Ask for a new assignment

Feeling underutilized or underappreciated can be tough. But we can take matters into our own hands by asking for an assignment we know we’d rock. We’ll get more satisfaction by working on something we enjoy, and our boss will take note of how we take initiative.

Get social

Invite a coworker to lunch or coffee. Ask about your coworker’s personal lives (family is always a great topic of conversation!). Making friends is a two-way street. Be genuinely interested in your coworkers and get to know them on a deeper level.

What will you do to have thriving career wellbeing?