We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” — Michelle Obama, former First Lady
A day doesn’t go by where I don’t hear a colleague talk about both their struggle and desire to achieve work-life balance. As busy careerists, we must recognize that work-life balance is not a static state, yet can be achieved by creating healthy boundaries to manage our time, energy, and commitments. When we prioritize what’s most important in our lives, it will be much easier to achieve work-life balance as a way of being.
We live in a society where saying ‘yes’ is often the acceptable norm.
How frequently do you take on new projects, problems, or client work when your plate is already full?
STEP 1: GET CLEAR
The first step in establishing healthy boundaries is to get clear about where you want to spend your time and energy. I recommend that you spend your time and energy on things that give you a high level of satisfaction in your life and career. If you’re someone who tends to be over-commit to something, then boundary setting is essential to sustainable success and job satisfaction.
Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” —Dolly Parton, singer
For some people, setting firm boundaries can feel harsh or limiting. The truth is, boundaries don’t have to be harsh or limiting, yet sometimes they are. The purpose of establishing limitations is to create the space necessary to achieve alignment in your work-wife and succeed in reaching your desired goals. As busy careerists, setting clear parameters around our time and availability is an important place to begin, because it will help you evaluate the health of your professional boundaries.
STEP 2: BE FLEXIBLE
We live in a world where flexibility and continued re-assessment of work-life balance is essential to maintaining choice and being able to make conscious decisions that invite a new workaround when it’s called for.
To have flexibility, you must first define your boundaries by allocated time and space as a buffer for yourself and your scheduled commitments. I often coach my clients towards creating more flexibility in their professional lives since there are often unpredictable situations that may require us to be less rigid.
STEP 3: KNOW YOUR WORK REQUIREMENTS
Your work requirements are your non-negotiables and relate directly to your deepest and critically essential values and priorities. They drive the creation of firm healthy boundaries.
Your ability to identify your requirements is imperative to your success and will lead to values-based decisions that will protect you from job burnout. Your Value-driven work requirements will support work-life alignment as a busy career development practitioner.
STEP 4: MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
By creating a mental and physical space between yourself and an unhelpful distraction can prevent overwhelm or derailment from your life and career goals and priorities. Consider planning a vacation or quick get-a-way to create physical distance and space from a project or person.
Re-prioritize your less critical projects or goals for a specific time to create time distance. You might also decide to focus on just one goal at a time to create mental space from other potential distractions.
STEP 5: INVITE ADAPTABILITY
Your ability to be adaptable requires both self-awareness and flexibility. It can be what you need it to be, such as a definite firm boundary or a more relaxed boundary depending on the situation.
It can look like having flexible management of your time and goals, having clear awareness and recognition of your limits, and the ability to prioritize new items as they arise while managing previous commitments.
When we don’t set boundaries, the person we most often disappoint is ourselves.
Learning to balance our work-life boundaries will help create the framework you need to steer clear of falling into a state of overwhelm and potential job burnout. It’s a creative process that will allow for ongoing personal and professional growth as you navigate a busy career.
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