If you type something like “how to have work-life balance” into your Google machine you will get countless lists and tips telling you to manage time, create a nice workspace, and take a class on mindfulness. Although well intention and valuable, these suggestions only pick away at surface level problems relating to work-life balance. The treat symptoms and not root causes. Work-life imbalance comes from much deeper issues. I’ve identified four potential route causes I want you to consider.
1) Relationships. Granted, sometimes excessive work will put strain on relationships for the simple reason that you are not around and that creates a gap. A tough question to consider is whether the source of your imbalance is the relationship itself. Is work being used to avoid dealing with relationship issues? In other cases, is work being used as a safe haven from a toxic relationship? Taking on relationship problems (although difficult) is critical in bringing life into alignment.
2) Fit. Are you in the right line of work? I get it. You’ve put years into your career and as much as you love the work you’re never fully happy. You look for another job, get it (because you are awesome) and after a few months your work-life issues pop up. If this is a consistent pattern then the type of work you are doing may not be for you. It may be time to pivot or at the very least, find an employer and work-philosophy that is radically different from your industry norm.
3) Fear. It is not uncommon for someone to have everything they need to take that bold step forward but fear is holding them back. Fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, and most commonly fear of change. Change is uncomfortable and setting forth in a new direction can be scary enough to stay put even if it is less than ideal.
4) Your Employer. Sometimes your employer just doesn’t get it and would rather treat employees like replaceable batteries than people with needs and ambition. As one lawyer told me many years ago “There’s nothing illegal happening at your workplace but you just work for a bunch of jerks.” If this is the case then it’s time to make a change.
Identifying the root causes of work-life imbalance is a lot tougher than learning how to use your calendar to create time or the beauty of breathing techniques. It’s work. Difficult work but difficult work that leads you to a much happier place when you engage.
Dr. Paul Artale is a work-life balance researcher and life coach who helps people breakthrough challenges so they can live life on their terms. Connect with Paul 🙂
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