Is The Pursuit Of Work-Life Balance Burning You Out?

iStock:Dmytro Varavin

Three Evidence-Based Ways To Set Better Boundaries At Work

When it comes to balancing the opportunities and demands of your work and your life, how have you gone over the last week? If it’s felt like your “work” has often been competing with your “life,” know that you are in good company. Researchers have found that for many of us trying to find work-life balance can feel like a zero-sum game in which we are always making sacrifices.

But is there an alternative?

“Almost 30 years of research suggests that we don’t have to sacrifice the things that matter most to us in our personal lives in order to succeed in our careers,” explained Dr. Stewart Friedman, an organizational psychologist at Wharton Business School and founder of its Work/Life Integration Project, when we interviewed him recently. “In fact, our studies have found that we’re more likely to be successful, perform better, feel less stressed, and be more in harmony when we’re able to integrate the four key domains of our lives — our career, our family, our community, and ourselves (mind, body, spirit) — so that life is better in each of these areas.”

Stewart suggested that rather than seeking work-life balance we instead look for “Four-Way Wins” that benefit and enrich ourselves, our family, our community and our work. By seeing that these domains are interconnected, it makes it more likely we’ll find possibilities for enriching all the areas of our lives, rather than assuming that one must always come at the sacrifice of another.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people who begin to apply the Four-Way Wins approach most often start by directing some their attention away from work and toward the other areas. While this may cause concern for some workplaces, paradoxically this redirection can result in better performance at work as well as the other domains because people are likely to be more grounded, less distracted, more focused, and intentional about the things that matter.

Unfortunately, Stewart’s research has found that currently many of us rate our satisfaction with each of the four domains, on average, around five out of ten. So, what can we try to improve our “Four-Way Wins”? He recommends:

Try this effective way to articulate your vision by taking a few minutes to describe a day exactly 15 years from today. Imagine, ideally, what happens on that day? You wake up, what do you do? What do you do in the morning? In the afternoon? In the evening? Who are you with? Who are you interacting with? And most importantly, why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s the impact that you’re having? What’s the legacy that you’re creating?

Articulating your values and vision, and then sharing them with others can create the foundation for taking meaningful, productive action as a leader, and generate more support as others understand what you’re about, and see how they’ll benefit from your vision.

How might you find more balance between the areas of your life that matter to the most?

For a series of simple free assessments from Stewart and his team click here.



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