In this modern day, many of us endure a seemingly perpetual and often hopeless struggle to a strike a happy balance between the incessant demands of our work life and the hope for a life defined by more than just what we do to get paid. We all cherish a hope for a life abundant with smiling friends and loving family, with interesting hobbies and exotic adventures; a life imbued with a sense of flowing newness and ever-expanding potentiality.
So, how do we find this holy grail of happy living? How do we prevent the walls of our work life from closing in upon us and suffocating and stifling our enthusiasm for life? Here are ten tips that have helped me:
Ten Tips to Maintaining Your Work and Life Balance
1) Learn to meditate. Yes, it takes practice and, yes, it is challenging, yet there are few, if any, endeavours that will enrich your life as much as learning to meditate. With consistent practice, you can find the ‘off’ button for your mind. It will prevent your workplace worries and concerns from following you home each day. Don’t let your work claim more of your life than absolutely necessary!
2) Exercise. Every day. It will give you more energy and more zest for life! If you are too tired or too stressed, then more rest will not solve the problem. What you need is exercise. Go for a run on your lunch break, take a yoga class, ride a bike, swim in the sea. Exercise for at least 30 minutes and push yourself beyond your typical comfort zone so that you are breathing deeply.
3) Don’t oversleep. More sleep is not the cure for stress. It will just make you feel more lethargic and will rob you of precious time you could spend doing something you love. For most of us, seven hours of sleep is sufficient.
4) Don’t work at a job you don’t like for the sake of a large pay cheque. The soul-numbing drudgery of a job we really dislike leaves a void within us that we often try to fill by purchasing material objects. As we rack up debt, we become a slave to the pay cheque. It is a vicious and fruitless cycle. Money cannot buy happiness! Repeat this to yourself over and over again. It is an absolutely infallible truth. Money cannot buy happiness.
5) Reduce your outgoings. First, learn to live within your means. Then, learn to live on less. Perhaps you can change to a job that pays less but that you actually like doing. Perhaps you can consider working part-time.
6) Dedicate yourself to something outside of work. Volunteer. Perhaps it will lead you in a new direction. When you can find something that you are truly passionate about, eventually it may be possible to make your work your life, and your life your work.
7) Don’t be governed by the fear of losing your job. It is utterly unhealthy. Remind yourself that life brings the unexpected and we can never predict what the future holds. Losing your job can actually be one of the best things that ever happened to you. By removing this common fear, new doors will open.
8) Don’t watch TV or surf the net excessively. So often we miss out on life’s great experiences because we are content to just watch it second-hand. Yes, it can be entertaining and, yes, it is comfortable, but we are really depriving ourselves of great opportunities. Why not cook something yourself rather than watch a cooking show. Go and play a sport, don’t just watch someone else do it!
9) Step away from technology. Turn off your phone. Go for a walk and leave it at home. Turn off your computer. It is not necessary to check your emails incessantly. These are simple actions that really work if you have determination to put them in to practise.
Your Life Is Like a River
Never give up! Keep trying new things and don’t lose heart when your plans don’t eventuate as expected. As Sri Chinmoy said:
Let us look at a river. The river flows constantly towards the sea. It carries all kinds of rubbish – dirt, stones, leaves, sand – that it picks up as it moves toward its goal, but it always continues flowing toward the sea. We should also think of our lives as a river running to the sea. This sea is the sea of fulfilment. If we are afraid to act because we don’t want to get involved with the imperfections of the world, if we become still and inactive, then we will never reach the goal.
– Sri Chinmoy ((Excerpted from Flame-Waves, Part 1))
Change the Focus of Your Life
Many years ago I heard a story of a high-flying business executive who worked himself into the ground, motivated solely by the notion of a comfortable retirement, only to be robbed of that dream by the stark finality of an early and unexpected death. It gave me the courage and resolve to reassess my life and make big changes. I hope that you too will find the things that you love doing and make them the focus of your life.
I do hope the above tips may be of some inspiration or assistance to you. Good luck as you work to maintain a good work-life balance!