The expression “work–life balance” was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970’s to describe the balance between an individual’s work and personal life. To split time and energy between work and the other important aspects of our lives should be a priority. Work-life balance is a daily effort to make time for family, friends, community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace. It’s of paramount importance to schedule YOU time into your day. That could mean re thinking how you organise your working week.
When Bill and I teach this as part of our coaching programmes we always start things off by asking our students to think about their attitude. This is where so much of what we do begins. It may seem obvious, but if we are not clear about what we really want and why we want it, there are going to be problems. Developing a healthy attitude about creating a healthy work-life balance doesn’t mean meditating for hours on the meaning of life, but it does take some reflection on our priorities and creating a plan of action that can facilitate positive change. Registration is now open for our next Macrobiotic Coaching Course in April where you will have a lot of fun exploring and putting into practice our template that has brought so many success in reducing stress in their lives.
Without belief in success, action is useless
Without reward, we will not act
Without a compass, we will lose our way (this is the truth of life)
Job strains that leads to physical illness has become an unpleasant fact for millions of workers worldwide. Individuals must and should take steps to reduce and cope with the stress in their lives, and incorporating Lifeforce usage and Wellness strategies is the only pro- active solution both at work and at home. Taking care of yourself and getting the most out of your life is what counts. There is no perfect, ‘one-size fits all’ balance you should be striving for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.
Stress is certainly a very real part of modern life. It is what happens when we are exposed to physical, emotional, spiritual or environmental challenges that we cannot cope with. Another way to say this is that stress is the result of resistance. We feel that we are supposed to be able to handle the pressures and it has almost become a badge of courage and nutritional stress exacerbates this ten fold.
There are countless books and seminars to instruct us on ways to run a home, be overworked and finance an increasingly expensive way of life without coming apart at the seams and running berserk through the streets. If we can do all this and not do violence to others or ourselves we are a success. We are “multi-tasking” – the mantra of the young professional. Does that make sense to you?
We are not designed to drive a car, listen to the radio, calm a child in the back seat and talk on a mobile phone at the same time. It is dangerous, the system is overloaded but we continue. We consistently override the messages sent to us by our body and mind in a manic drive to keep up with everyone else. We say that we are experiencing stress! Well of course we are. Having a healthy attitude means creating priorities that are outside this chaotic premise.
At the core of an effective work-life balance definition are two key everyday concepts that are relevant to each of us. They are daily achievement and enjoyment, ideas. What do you want to achieve? Life will deliver the value and balance we desire …when we are achieving and enjoying something every single day…in all the important areas that make up our lives.
As a result, a good working definition of work-life balance is to make the most of your potential, cope with life, play a full part in your family, workplace, community, among friends and prevent illness.
The pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the health of the general population. The cumulative effect of increased working hours is having an important effect on the lifestyle of a huge number of people, which is likely to prove damaging to their physical and mental well-being. But even if you don’t have much control over the hours you have to work, you can ask yourself: In what other ways am I bringing greater enjoyment into my life? It’s really important to focus your time and attention on things you can control.”
We all have things that absolutely must be done for our work or family but who will do them if we sacrifice our health to the ‘god’ of pressure. We get used to living in a certain way and habits are formed and those are generally unhealthy ‘habits’.
Make an appointment with yourself! Write it in your diary. Bill and I have very busy lives but we make sure we have a ‘date night’ in the diary each week. We may go out to dinner, see a movie or simply take a drive and walk on the beach. You must be proactive about scheduling your time each day. Time management is such a great way to be organized and lets you achieve so much more when you work to a schedule.
Defeating the One Million Monkeys is what I love to teach my students.
Imagine the mind as the sum total of all you have experienced, learned and been told. These are all influences of the past – they may or may not be true for the present or the future. If we allow old experiences and work-life patterns to dictate our actions, we become a slave to the past. This slavery holds us back from moving into a new future. You can improve your work-life balance by letting go of old ways and creating a new paradigm.
Ask yourself how often you were told that you couldn’t accomplish certain things because you were too young, too old, a woman, a man, not smart enough, not good looking etc., etc., etc. Blah Blah Blah. History is filled with men and woman who rose above difficulty to accomplish great things. These people all had one thing in common: they didn’t believe the dream-stealers and the negative folks around them. They also often failed many times before success. These people are worth modelling.
If we repeat a thought enough times we start to believe it. Thoughts can become reality. If we are told something enough times we start to think it’s true. If we fail at a task and are given a reasonable reason for our failure, we often embrace it. When we take in the myriad of excuses, rationales and unasked-for advice, why we can’t seem to achieve a healthy work-life balance, we create a monkey mind.
The million monkeys are all those thoughts that confuse, conflict and contradict our intentions. Other people give us many of the monkeys. Friends, parents and spouses, everyone is happy to share their favourite mischief-maker with you. I see the monkeys in operation every day in my own life and in others. This is what happens.
A sizeable group of people are neglecting the work-life balance factors in their lives that weakens their resilience to physical and mental health problems. Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘wellbeing’ and it’s just as important as good physical health.
I hate to use a mechanical term for any human function but we get programmed and we all have our particular reasons why we can’t do what we haven’t done. Over the years we come to believe these monkey thoughts are true. Guess what? If we believe them to be true, they will be. We need to recognize the monkey for what it is, and create some new programmes to run with. We have the ability to create new images and beliefs if we want to. We can create new healthy habits that will help us achieve and bring us enjoyment at work and at home.
There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel and cope with day to day life – for example, caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect. But food can also have a long-lasting effect on your health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. A healthy balanced diet includes lots of different types of fruit and vegetables wholegrain cereals or bread, beans, nuts and seeds, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Creating a New Work Life Balance
Our lives often become burdened with too many considerations, a jumble of needs, wants and responsibilities. If this is the case it is important to sort through them all and discover what is really most important. Excitement, exuberance, vitality and curiosity – these are the kinds of qualities we associate with a healthy work-life balance. What kinds of activities call these emotions to the fore? What is it that would make you excited to get up in the morning? What would light up your life? This is a meditation worth doing.
This doesn’t mean you leave it all behind and hop on a slow boat to the South Seas. It simply means that you dream a little. You can always modify your dreams, but throwing them away or giving up on them isn’t healthy. It’s interesting how many people say that TV is a waste of time or that the programmes are rubbish, yet they still watch 30 or more hours a week. Going on a media fast is good for the mind and soul. Simply unplug for a week or two. Try it. Use the time to read about your own body and mind or listen to music, go for a walk, meditate or just be quiet.
It is important to shake up the schedule a little to allow the mind to focus on what is missing or what needs to be cast off. Sometimes it’s essential to remove ourselves from the social bustle if even for short periods of time so that we can nourish our personal needs. It’s not always easy either. The demands of family, work and simply the business of life can take over. Health always involves balance.
If we are not excited about our lives we either need to change our situation or ourselves. I have seen people who have serious health problems turn their lives around with the slightest shift in behaviour. Look into your past and see if there is something that you stopped doing that used to bring you pleasure. It might be that you loved to play music, or dance or hike or paint; it could be anything that was dropped by the wayside. Rediscover your passion and it will enliven you.
Health and balance of everything is about your whole life, how you feel, what you do, how you think. I wish you all joy and abundance and much energy and vitality for 2015.