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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

Work-life Balance: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

As Dolly Parton says, “Don’t get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.”

But keeping up with our various obligations can easily feel like a precarious juggling act. We have commitments to honor: to our co-workers, supervisors, family, friends, and pets -not to mention yourself. Keeping all these balls in the air without dropping any can be difficult and exhausting.

And to do it all while smiling and enjoying life? Well, that takes exceptional skill – or so it often seems.

Which is why we need to talk about work-life balance.

Let’s get clear on what work-life balance actually is and why it is important.

When you have work-life balance you have fulfillment in your personal life and work life. You have learned ways to minimize work related stressors and have established productive and sustainable ways to work. This allows you to maintain your health, motivation, and overall well-being.

Work-life balance also means you have a life outside of work with activities and interests that replenish you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The word “balance” implies a perfect distribution between the hours spent at work and those invested in your personal life. More realistically, however, it is an equilibrium where work and personal life are both getting the attention that they need.

Successful work-life balance looks different for everyone because we all have different circumstances and commitments. It may change at different times in our lives, such as when we are caring for young children or aging parents.

As both psychotherapists and business consultants, we see first-hand the devastating impact that an out of balanced life has on individuals, families, and companies.

For individuals, it is the culprit of numerous physical ailments, mental health struggles, and relationship problems.

For companies, the impact shows up in high rates of absenteeism and turnover, decreased productivity, and increased work related accidents.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We coach individuals and companies to make changes to their relationship with work.

It is the ultimate honor to watch them rise from the ashes with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation that helps them care for themselves, their families and be proud of the contributions they make in the workplace.

One way to think about work-life balance is that each area of your life represents a ball you are continually trying to juggle. With so many roles and responsibilities, it is inevitable that you will occasionally drop a ball. That is just the reality of our limited capacity as humans.

The problem comes when we continually drop the same ball every time. Always dropping the family ball leads to relationship problems with those you care about most. Always dropping the financial ball can lead to overdue bills and bad credit.

Some balls are glass balls. They are more fragile than others and can’t recover from damage as easily. Your physical health is one example of a glass ball. If this ball is always the one that is dropped, it can have devastating ripple effects throughout your life. Not only will you feel awful and be limited in what you can accomplish, all other balls will also come crashing to the ground while you are forced to devote your energy to repairing your health.

Rather than judging success by if you are able to always keep every ball in the air, a more realistic goal is to not drop the same ball every time. Instead, rotate which ball gets dropped so that no one area is completely neglected.

In our next few blogs we will outline the things that both individuals and employers can do to achieve work-life balance.

Until then, consider this: Which area of your life needs more of your attention right now?

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