In much the same way that a car’s fuel tank can only hold so much fuel, all people have a certain amount of fuel which we have available to burn during a day. Some people’s 'tanks' are bigger than others which allows them to do more each day, so individuals need to be conscious of their own individual limitations. The key to avoiding burnout is making sure you don’t regularly spend more fuel than your tank is able to hold.
Work-Life Balance is much more a journey than a destination - a concept that you need to continually be aware of and work on. Just when you think you have achieved balance, the goalposts are likely to move and you need to reassess the balance you are aiming for. Essentially, achieving a feeling of balance involves directing appropriate amounts of attention, time & energy to each of the important parts of your life based on your current situation.
Your individual definition of balance needs to be flexible enough to deal with life’s natural challenges and undulations as things will always change. Each of the elements in your life will invariably pull you in opposing directions at any given time with each requiring varying amounts of attention. The key to maintaining some form of balance is acknowledging that the element of your life that requires the most of your attention (will burn the most fuel) will constantly change and adjusting to this. When one part of your life requires greater attention & energy (fuel), if you don’t make adjustments in each of the other three areas of your life, you will quickly empty the tank - losing balance and risking burnout.
Acknowledging that balance is not a static concept, rather one that is fluid and requires constant attention in order to shift the mix is the first step towards consistently feeling that you are achieving some form of balance. Given each person’s definition of Work-Life Balance is an individual as the person themselves, there is no set formula to achieving it. However there are some common concepts which can set you on the path to better balance:
- Make balance a priority and commit to it – make it a change that you want!
- Make time to reflect on your life and balance needs.
- Make note of where your energy is going (actual balance) and decide on how you would like your life to be (ideal balance).
- Make plans to achieve balance by setting reasonable goals and removing obstacles. Start small by adding enjoyable activities back into your day or week and reward yourself for gains made.
- Stay focused and motivated by getting others involved in your attempts to balance by making dates, reminders and other changes to your routine that support your plans.
What has been your experience is chasing Work-Life Balance and managing your fuel burn? Do you have a strategy which assists in your pursuit of it?