In Al Gore’s documentary on global warming (An Inconvenient Truth), he makes reference to a picture used by the Bush administration to illustrate the conflict between money and environment. In the picture, there is a scale: on one side of the scale, there is a pile of gold bars, on the other the earth. As Al Gore somewhat wryly pointed out…gold is not much use to you if you have no earth.

I must say the same thought strikes me when I read about “work-life balance.” If you “ain’t” got a life, work is not much good to you! I even think the word balance is a misnomer. We think of balance and think of everything being equal, being the same. I think a better description is that of equilibrium, and equilibrium is essentially a journey rather than a destination. It’s about enjoying all parts of your life. The concept of “work-life balance” is a rather fluid one. Take someone who has just started their business and is working 60-70 hours a week building it up. They love it and feel energized by it. That balance is right for them. On the other hand, this could be soul-destroying for someone with a young family.

When I was researching this article, what struck me was the emphasis on changes that companies can make, but in this article I’d rather focus on the changes YOU can make within your own life. Here are some ways to develop the right work-life balance for you:

• Begin by drawing up a schedule of an ideal week--park the “let’s be realistic” concept. Just really write out what your ideal week would look like. Then, identify what elements you could begin to incorporate into your life.

• Learn to be present: Learn how to be present so that you give your full attention to the task/person in front of you; at home and at work. This will go a long long way to alleviating your stress. You could begin by giving your full attention to washing your hands.

• Ask your company about flexible working hours, telecommuting. In many companies, it’s not just for parents! Ask your manager about it and if she/he is somewhat resistant, seek to identify his/her concerns and ameliorate them.

• Commuting is a killer in Ireland today. If you can’t reduce it, how could you make the journey to and from work more interesting, enjoyable, productive? Invest in an MP3 player and listen to audio books, your favorite music. Hey, consider learning a new language.

• Let go: what are you doing that you are not enjoying any more. Is there any way to let go of it? Are you having to spend more time at work than you need to because you are solving other people’s work problems?

• Consider downshifting. Downshifting means that you work fewer hours (probably for less money), but because you change your lifestyle (consuming less), it does not mean too much financial hardship. And, the gains in your time and quality of life far outweigh the losses.

If you are not happy with your current work-life balance--begin to identify ways in which you can bring in more of what you want to the job--and begin to eliminate what doesn’t suit.

Author's Bio: 

Anne Walsh is a life coach based in Co. Galway.You receive a free 10 part e-course called Personal Freedom when you sign up to her free monthly newsletter: Bring your best self to light at www.annewalshcoach.com . One of the modules in the e-course is on identifying your values…what is really important to you. She can also be contacted at anne@annewalshcoach.com.