Unless you are the President or the Pope your headstone won't reflect your career. I've never seen one that says "Great Administrative Assistant" or "Best Manager". Your legacy is defined by the memories you make and the lives you touch, not your salary or your status. Here are my top five rules to achieving satisfying work/life balance:
- Set boundaries. Let's be honest, you can't really be all things to all people. I had to set boundaries with work, family and friends. Unless there's a hot project I have a cutoff time for work. I have boundaries for personal obligations as well. Instead of working twelve-hour days while trying to take care of home, exercise, volunteer, and spend time with family and friends, I had to create a schedule...and stick to it!
- Prioritize. Know that there are days when work and life won't balance. It's ok. At the end of the day knowing what it takes to make you happy and making that a priority will make you a much happier person. I found mine in #3.
- Disconnect. Being able to check out, if only for a brief time, is most relaxing. Everyday at 4pm I walk outside the office for about 15 minutes. I usually go alone and leave the BlackBerry on the desk. I'm sure the world can survive without me for 15 minutes. When I return I feel so relaxed and rejuvenated. The day goes faster and I have that boost of energy to carry out my personal responsibilities.
- "No" is an acceptable answer. Oftentimes we will accept any and all requests knowing there aren't enough hours in the day to fulfill all of them. Declining a request doesn't make you a bad person. Sometimes you have to look out for you and make no apologies for it.
- Do what makes you happy. Figure out what makes you happy and fulfilled and do it as often as possible. I enjoy catching up with my friends. The great part about that is my friends are athletic like me so not only do we get to hang out, but we also try some new workout craze. I look forward to it and it keeps me going until our next outing.
We all have to establish the rules that work best for our lifestyle. Though my rules don't always work in perfect harmony, they are always the driving force in my daily decisions. I challenge you to set five goals to live by for your work/life balance.
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