Creating a healthy work/life balance is important because without it, you can never fully open yourself to a harmonious existence that serves yourself and the world around you.
Anything done in excess eventually proves unsustainable. When we live in unbalanced ways, we experience major stress, dissatisfaction and anxiety. We miss the beautiful things life has to offer, and lose touch with our potential. If we don’t focus on the full spectrum of the human experience, we lose what makes life meaningful. Not only does our life in general suffer, but ironically so does our work. It is hard to contribute to the world in a purposeful and intuitive way when we let a certain area in our life dominate the rest.
Improving work/life balance by embracing all essential areas in your life
So what are we missing out on when work is our only priority? The self-actualization wheel can broaden our perspective. It is a great tool to help determine which areas you need to grow in your life, and where others may need adjusting. The self-actualization wheel is broken up into eight segments, which include:
Calling - You feel like you know what your calling is. You’re cultivating your purpose and sharing it with the world.
Confidence - You feel capable of creating what you want in your life, to lead others, to take risks, express yourself fully with others, and follow your inner wisdom/ideas.
Influence - You feel like you’re impacting, uplifting and empowering others regularly. You’re leading the groups and numbers of people you want to be impacting.
Love & Relationships - You have fulfilling, rich, growth-oriented relationships with a partner, family, and friends.
Prosperity/Career - You’re earning enough to have the resources to thrive, prosper and contribute in life. You’re managing finances effectively, working in a career where you feel fulfilled and which is aligned with your values.
Creativity - You enjoy creating, playing and having fun on a regular basis. You have some form of creative expression, such as painting, dancing, writing, etc.
Health - You’re fit, healthy, radiant, vital and have enough energy to do everything you want to do. You support yourself to eat well and stay calm/centered daily.
Spirituality - You feel deeply connected to a higher power and trust life to support you to create, grow and evolve. You trust your inner wisdom to guide and support you.
To enable a more harmonious life, we should aim to balance these essentials as equally as possible.
Where work/life imbalance comes from
Unfortunately, so many of us suffer from workaholism. This is not entirely our own fault, but has a lot to do with how our society functions. From a very young age, we are shoved into a conveyor belt system and told in quite a penetrative way what ‘success’ is, with the definition being quite narrow-minded and inflexible. In our world, the standard message is to complete school, go to university and get a job. We are told that ‘the more money one has, the more successful one is.’ It is then no surprise that many of us have such a work/life imbalance.
There is not much emphasis in society on discovering and exploring what success looks like for us as unique individuals. Therefore, we find ourselves later down the line in careers that leave us stressed, dissatisfied and sad. This is likely because we stayed in that conveyor belt system without forming what our own definition of success is, or at least following a broader one.
Although education and prosperity are incredibly important in life, the message that is drilled into us from a young age is that ‘making it’ in this area will bring us the feeling of ‘success.’ This only contributes to so many of us experiencing a dysfunctional imbalance between work and life.
Breaking out of the conveyor belt and finding balance in work and life
First of all, we need to break away from the idea that money is everything and success is purely measured on ‘what one does’ as a job. This is not to say that this is not important. It is! Prosperity and career are in the self-actualization wheel for a reason. However, they are not everything in life. Success needs to be more broadly measured, and that starts with us taking responsibility for our imbalances.
Once we break away from conditioned ideas of what success looks like and stop letting society define it for us, we can start expanding and exploring what other areas are important for us.
Success comes in many forms. Raising a healthy family. Developing and becoming skilled in a satisfying hobby. Being a positive contributor to your community. Becoming a knowledgeable person who others learn from. Developing a regular yoga or meditation practice. Deepening your authentic Self and offering those riches to your loved ones. Being an anchoring or nurturing presence to those you care about.
The other areas in the self-actualization wheel are all just as important as work. They also enhance work immeasurably. If you focus on growing in each of these facets, your life will become healthier, and those around you can benefit from your growth. As a cherry on the top, you also reduce anxiety, dissatisfaction, unhappiness and stress. It is a win-win for all.
By Katinka Noack