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, it’s essential that we recognize that work-life balance is not a static state and is 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 extra projects, problems, or client work when your plate is already full?
The first step in establishing healthy boundaries is to get clear about where you want to spend your time and energy. I recommend that your time and energy be spent 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 things, 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 just are. The purpose of establishing boundaries 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 services and business hours is an important place to begin, because it will help you evaluate the health of your professional boundaries.
1. 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 work-around when it’s called for. In order 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.
For example, communication and the person’ you are speaking with is often unpredictable. If we try to learn the appropriate behavior for any given situation, we’ll run into problems. Learning to be flexible will allow you to choose the way you want to communicate in order to get the best results.
2. Know Your Work Requirements. Your work requirements are your non-negotiables and relate directly to your deepest and critically important values and priorities. They drive the creation of strong, 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.
3. Create Space and 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 in order to create physical distance and space from a project or person. Re-prioritize your less important projects or goals for a specific period of time in order 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.
For example, perhaps your goal this year is to develop your personal branding to better attract your ideal clients. Consider creating a mind map to help you visual the space you need to minimize potential distractions and stay focused on pursuing this one goal.
4. Invite Adaptability. Your ability to be adaptable requires both self-awareness and flexibility. This can be what you need it to be, such as a firm strong 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 you create the framework you need to steer clear of falling into a state of overwhelm and potential job burnout. This is a creative process that will allow for ongoing personal and professional growth as a successful career development practitioner.
►Teena Evert coaches professional men and women who place a high value on their career development and strive for success while also seeking work-life balance. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Teena Evert, MA, LMFT, CCTC, CCC, GCDF, CDBS is a Certified Career Counselor, Global Career Development Facilitator, Life Coach and Licensed Mental Health Professional. She helps her clients successfully navigate important transitions in their life and career with intention, clarity and purpose. She can help you get unstuck, identify your barriers, and move forward fearlessly into a bright future of your own design.
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