Work-life balance is one of the most frequently talked about but rarely achieved goals for most professionals. What is this unicorn of a healthy lifestyle? Work-life balance generally refers to the happy medium of feeling fulfilled in both your personal and professional life. Unfortunately, most people struggle to attain a healthy balance between these worlds, leaving them feeling stressed, frustrated and unsatisfied.
A survey by Grand Canyon University of 600 businesspeople found that over half work more than 40 hours per week. Additionally, 63.3% of the workers surveyed said they work 5 hours or more on the weekend. The data shows that people are working longer hours, going beyond the traditional 9-5 work schedule.
When asked, most people cited professional perfectionism, company culture and burnout as the top barriers to work-life balance. The sacrifices are immense, including relationships with family and friends, mental and physical health, and self-care.
If you are hoping to reach a more zen existence, consider these eight warning signs that your work-life balance is out of whack — and how to fix them.
You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
One of the tell-tale signs that your work-life balance may be off-kilter is that you always feel tired. Sacrificing sleep to get more hours in the office is a disservice to you and your job. Sleep deprivation can directly affect your job performance and your productivity.
It can also be dangerous. Individuals who aren’t getting enough sleep are more likely to make mistakes that can prove deadly if their job requires them to operate heavy machinery or check that safety protocols are met.
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You Feel Burnt Out
Another red flag that your work-life balance is out of sync is that you feel burnt out all the time. Today, the 40-hour work week feels like a myth. Despite state and federal labor laws designed to protect employees, many workers are putting in more hours than ever before.
With improved technology, professionals are connected to their job 24/7, receiving work emails on their personal cell phones. There is no clear end to the work day. What’s worse? Companies applaud the after-hours work, showcasing employees that go “above and beyond” and further perpetuating these toxic work habits. If in doubt, shut it down until you are back in the office.
You Aren’t Taking Time Off
Companies routinely use paid time off (PTO) to incentivize potential new hires. They proudly broadcast the number of days or weeks they offer, then frown when you ask to take them or make you feel like you can’t.
The problem is these days off are vital for you to strike the balance between being a happy, productive employee and a highly fulfilled individual. In reality, the perk becomes more of a burden if you feel like you can never take the days off.
You Are Missing Events
Children, spouses and other loved ones are usually the first to see that your work-life balance is not so balanced. You may miss your kid’s first little league hit because you are on the phone with a client or may be unable to enjoy a friend’s birthday because you were called into the office on a Sunday.
When you prioritize work over everything else, one thing that suffers the most is your closest relationships. The people who love you unconditionally end up getting the shortest end of the stick because they want to be understanding and supportive. Many missed events are ones you can’t get back, and a video simply can’t do justice to your daughter dressed up as a gum drop in her first holiday performance.
Your Health Is Suffering
Your mental and physical health is something that you should not sacrifice to prove that you are the hardest working employee. If work stops you from taking an afternoon walk or going to the doctor, you need to shift your focus.
Put yourself first; everything else comes second. You will be a better parent, spouse, employee, friend and more when you take care of yourself.
You Work on Vacation
Setting clear boundaries is not always easy, but it is crucial if you want to achieve a work-life balance. Vacation should be just that, vacation.
Do not bring your laptop or check your work email on your phone. Be present in the moment and enjoy the time with your friends or family. Unplug and unwind so you can return to work refreshed.
You Feel Like It Is Never Enough
More than 30% of the businesspeople surveyed by GMU said that personal perfectionism was the biggest barrier to work-life balance. This means that one of the most significant obstacles to achieving personal and professional bliss is psychological.
Too often, workers feel like it is never enough, no matter how much they give or how many hours they work. Taking the pressure to be perfect off of yourself can do wonders for your emotional well-being.
You Struggle to Find Happiness
If you constantly feel unhappy in your career or at home, you may not be succeeding in finding a healthy work-life balance. You should feel some level of satisfaction in both areas of your life.
While it can be challenging, take time to reevaluate. Write down the things you hope to accomplish personally and professionally. Then, take steps toward those goals. Do you hope to start a family or own a pet? Do you want to become a team lead or create your own business? Once you put it down on paper, you can put into motion the actions it will take to make it happen.
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