We all have goals in life. These goals changes as we grow. Entering the workforce is akin to entering a different realm, where stress is inevitable. In the context of Singapore, today’s high-pressure corporate circles often render employees under ridiculous expectations from their superiors, eventually resulting in extra-long work hours.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s quarterly Labour Market Report (2014) affirms this, highlighting that Singapore has an average of 2389.4 working hours. Being ranked the first for longest working hours in Asia suggest a stressful and hectic pace of life for most people in Singapore.
Achieving a work-life balance is something we struggle with. Work-life balance involves prioritising between one’s work and life. Work includes career and ambition. Life includes health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development.
Given the pressures and demands at work, living a well-balanced life may seem impossible to do. But, fret not as here are 5 actionable steps to help you achieve and maintain your work-life balance.
1) Take the Initiative
Just like it takes two hands to clap, it takes two people to have a conversation. Let others know what makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Hiding your concerns and expecting others to guess results in frustration.
If you’re feeling stressed out at work, be transparent about your feelings with your supervisor. Initiate an open dialogue to discuss about your priorities to establish mutual understanding.
It’s also important to share your life with your spouse and children. If you’re having a bad day, talk to them as your pillar of support. You may also realise there’re more important things in life than a bad day at work. Remember – it’s a bad day, not a bad life.
2) YOU Matter
It’s easy to feel suffocated when you’re overload with work. Being overwhelmed by stress and anxiety raises your adrenaline levels significantly, making the office an unpleasant place to be. Working professionals are increasingly caught up with work and they neglect themselves.
Having “me” time gives you an opportunity to unwind. This helps your mind to relax and refocus. These private moments also give you time to reflect on your day and help you to set your priorities. Thus, it’s important to set aside a small amount of time for meditation and to indulge yourself in activities you enjoy.
Some stress relief techniques that work for me are spending time after work with my puppy, hitting the gym and listening to music just before bed.
In my personal opinion, the best form of therapeutic stress relief would be petting a pet.
Go on and try it!
3) Learning to Say No
One of the key components to achieving a work-life balance is to establish boundaries. You’ll be happier when you learn how to start saying no to others. And only say yes to the things that can make you a better person than you were yesterday. This means learning how to say “no” to things that’re exciting and focus on what’s truly important.
You don’t want to be completely bogged down with work by overcommitting to requests from everyone. Remember – it’s ok to decline if you have enough on your plate. The worst thing to do is to promise a task you’re unable to deliver.
How do you say no? There are a few ways you can turn down a request politely to avoid burning bridges:
“I would love to help you out, but given my schedule, I do not have the time to give this my best right now.”
“Thank you for thinking of me as someone you would feel is a good fit to help you. I am not able now because…”
“I am happy to connect you with someone who could best help you handle this issue.
4) Prioritise Your Goals
- Will you give up a promotion for work-life balance?
- Will you leave a high paying job and do something that you love?
If you say yes – we’re glad you’re reading this.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to prioritise your goals in life. This include scheduling time to significant people and activities.
Some would rather take a pay cut to preserve their work-life balance or quit a well-paid job to follow their passions. Those who want to get ahead in their careers would choose to sacrifice their leisure and personal time.
Time is valuable, and so is your life. The process of goals setting will help you decide how you should spend your time. People who achieve work-life balance are clear about their priorities and have set appropriate boundaries to maintain their state of balanced life.
5) Schedule Time for Exercising
Life gets busy. No matter how busy you’re, you still spare time for essential things in life. You sleep, eat and go to the bathroom. Yet the next essential element you tend to ignore is exercising.
Not only is exercising good for your health, it can also be energizing and act as a stress-reliever. It helps to boost your mood and can put you in a meditative state.
This enhances productivity at work through alertness and energy. A quick morning workout at the gym or home is a great way to start.
If you’re already thinking of procrastinating, make a schedule and reward yourself whenever you commit to it. You can also find an exercise buddy to workout with.
After all, a good mix of work and life is not unattainable. All you need to do is to recognise your priorities and set healthy boundaries at work. The first step starts with your attitude, your mind and what you ultimately want in life. The secret is to have consistency and slowly work your way towards living a work-life balance that’s filled with happiness and satisfaction.