Your Life: Work-life balance

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Work-life balance – myth or reality?

Feeling guilty because you aren't leading a 'balanced' life? Don't get discouraged – you're not alone. How many people do you know who are truly happy with the pace of their busy lives? Probably not many!

Truth is, there's no magic formula that will help you give exactly the right amount of time to the many competing demands in your life. Invariably, life involves choices – and the choices are up to you.

As you move through different stages of life, your priorities will change. You may get pregnant, look after a sick parent, start a new career or discover a new hobby. At each stage, your focus will shift and different things will demand and hold your attention – often at the expense of other priorities in your life.

But that is not necessarily a bad thing. You may actually be happiest when you're pursuing something that you feel passionate about, even if it means that your life is not balanced and your other priorities get less attention.

Regaining a sense of control
Work-life balance is not about organizing your schedule and giving every part of your life equal time. It's about regaining a sense of accomplishment and control. It's about making choices that are right for the time and circumstances of your life. It's about living life in a way that makes you feel happy, rewarded and fulfilled.

In your search for a balanced lifestyle, start by asking yourself these simple questions:

Do you feel good about how you're spending your time?
Are you aware of the choices you're making or is life running roughshod over you?
Are you nurturing the things that are important to you?
Are the choices and sacrifices you're making today moving you towards a goal or vision for your future?
Do you understand the implications of your choices on your family and your work?

A balancing act
Rather than letting external circumstances push and pull you through life, take responsibility for the choices you make. Take time to plan, set goals and make good decisions about the way you’re spending your precious hours.

Sometimes, you may have to make sacrifices in one area to achieve your goals in another area. The important thing is to make sure that you are spending your time and energy effectively, without sacrificing your health, relationships and family. And remember, no matter how hard you strive to find balance, there will always be some degree of tension between the competing demands in your life.

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A checklist for work/life harmony
As you strive for greater control of your life, keep these helpful strategies in mind:

Set personal boundaries
Think about situations that frustrate you or cause you to make needless personal sacrifices. Set limits for yourself. Decide what you're willing to accept and where you’ll draw the line. Then stick to your rules!

Concentrate on results
Don’t waste valuable time and energy on unproductive activities. Prioritize the tasks that give you the greatest satisfaction or the best results. When you focus on the right things, your limited time will go a lot farther.

Adjust your standards
Are you a slave to your standards? Find areas where you can ease back a little. Maybe you can learn to live with a few dust bunnies if it means you have time for a hot bath at the end of the day! Ask for help if you need it – you don't have to shoulder all the burdens yourself.

Pursue your passions
If you enjoy a hobby or activity, make time for it – even if it throws your life out of balance for a while. Just be careful that you don’t focus on your personal interests to the exclusion of everything else in your life.

Take care of your health
Make time to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Exercise relaxes tense muscles, increases stamina and helps you sleep better. A balanced diet delivers essential nutrients that combat stress, help you fight off diseases and keep you energized. Visit Get fit for life and Eat smart for valuable information on healthy living.

Take time to smell the roses
Trite but true. It's important to put yourself first – at least some of the time. Take time to reward yourself for all your hard work. Read a book, take a nap or indulge in a special treat. If you're respectful of your own needs, it's much easier to find the resources to respect and support the needs of those around you.

Get the support you need
The Peel board offers many programs that can help you make positive lifestyle choices. Visit Wellness programs and Employee Assistance Program to learn more.

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