As the past year was coming to a close, I was discussing with a co-worker how our various team members approach the balance of work, time at home and time off (a.k.a. Free Days). While some team members emphasize a strong separation between their work life and their non-work life, others have blurred lines where they will continue working well after their day ends. While some individuals try to utilize all of their Free Days throughout the year, others seem to need a lot of encouragement to even take a day off.
I, of course, spilled into the whole Work-Life Balance statement and how those individuals who work late into most evenings, get up super early and don’t take Free Days need to start balancing their non-work life better. My coworker quickly stated that he likes to look at it as an individual choice: everyone needs to strive for their own personal Work-Life Satisfaction. This concept struck a chord with me and I felt compelled to share with all of you.
Work-Life Satisfaction is all about each individual achieving satisfaction with their balance of work and non-work life. There is no perfect formula for this. Depending on a person’s personal passions, age, family make-up, and other possible variables, they will adjust how much time they focus on work versus how much time they spend focused on other areas of their lives. I’ve outlined a few examples below to give you a clearer picture.
Take a young father in his early 30’s. While he is building his career, he also has young children at home and has to decide how to divide his time between work and non-work to achieve the most satisfaction. Working 40 to 50 hours a week may be his limit because his priority is to play an active role in his kids’ lives. He is also less likely to travel as much throughout the year, so that he does not miss out on major events in his family’s lives.
Now let’s consider a mother in her 50’s. She probably spent a lot of time in her 30’s and early 40’s playing a major role in raising her children. Once her kids have grown and moved out of the house, she is able to shift her priorities. Now, she is able to spend more time working in the evenings and more time traveling for work. She’s able to focus more on her career and less on her non-work life because this brings her the most satisfaction.
Let’s not forget about individuals who might have a passion outside of their work. No matter their age, their marital status, or whether they have children, they are more likely to spend the minimum amount of time at work while optimizing their non-work time and Free Days to purse their true passion. For them, their work is what funds their passion to travel, participate in their community, compete in various events, or whatever it is they’re truly passionate about. You can say the exact opposite of the people who are truly passionate about work and building their careers.
With all of this being said, my challenge for you in 2016 is to truly strive for your optimal Work-Life Satisfaction. Look at what makes you satisfied in life; is it spending more time working, more time traveling, more time being present with your family? Once you figure this out, be vocal about your desires with your manager and your family. Establish specific boundaries that will hold you accountable to achieve that satisfaction and then watch as you become a happier, more successful person as this year progresses.
Always remember, there is no perfect formula for this. As your life changes and progresses throughout the years your formula will continue to adjust to your ever changing need for satisfaction in all areas of your life.