work-life balance

Work Life Balance Barriers

Do you feel burned out at work and guilty whenever you take your foot off the gas? Then, maybe your work-life balance is way out of alignment. Life isn’t all about work and making money. Your health, happiness, job satisfaction and motivation are also important indicators of how well you’re doing in life.

As men we love fixing problems and facing challenges, but we sometimes fall into destructive patterns that wreck our work-life balance. Society has infused businessmen with a succeed or else mentality that can wreak havoc on your health and wellness.

There are some new and unique challenges to your work-life balance. Most people are working from home and that means the lines between work and leisure are getting more and more fuzzy. An insightful report from Microsoft found that since the pandemic began in 2020, the average workday has gotten longer.

There’s been a 55% increase in calls and meetings per week and the number of afterhours work-related chats has doubled. This type of approach to work actually leaves you with little room for fun, play and the freedom to try risky challenges. All of these things help you to grow. Being successful is about more than making money. It’s about more than winning.

If you want to have better work-life balance, then you need to recognize these destructive patterns and make some changes to your viewpoint.

You only feel successful when you’re being productive

Everyone’s definition of success is different, but if you only think you’re successful when you’re working then you might have a work-life imbalance. Every business goes through phases and sometimes you won’t feel so productive.

That’s fine. You don’t need to punish yourself into greatness. Men who suffer from poor work-life balance often work through unproductive phases instead of taking advantage of that time to refresh themselves.

You don’t always have to be doing something. Resist the urge to power through phases of your life and business that are calling you to a period of rest. This time is valuable. It helps you to examine the work that you’ve already done. It helps you to catch up on personal affairs and discover new avenues of opportunity.

Men need to give themselves permission to redefine success. Make it personal and don’t let someone else determine what makes you successful. It’s not always going to be pedal to the metal. Focus on developing yourself as a whole individual and you’ll reap the benefits of a balanced life.

You view rest and recreation as the products of laziness

If your work-life balance is out of flux, then you might view rest as idle behavior. The fact that there are so many hustle mentors and gurus online telling you to get out there and crush it doesn’t help much either.

Nobody needs to hear that they’re lazy. That isn’t positive reinforcement. It makes you overly self-critical and fuels anxiety. There’s a reason why it’s called work-life balance and that’s because rest and recreation need to be in the right proportion to the amount of work that you’re doing.

A survey conducted by The Mental Health Foundation found that 34% of respondents felt anxious when working long hours. More than 50% felt irritated and depressed.

Related: 10 Things That Worsen Anxiety

When you get it just right, you don’t feel guilty for taking some time off. The top business leaders recognize that they need time away from the office. Bill Gates regularly takes trips to his private retreat just to read and come up with new ideas.

The gurus and hustlers who try to convince you that you’re lazy are actually trying to sell you something. They’re playing on your emotions and thoughts to make you think that you’ve got it all wrong. Then, they conveniently offer their solution.

The truth is – rest and recreation will refresh your productivity. Deny it and you’ll be heading for a burnout.

You need to earn the right to relax

Lots of entrepreneurs fall into this work-life balance trap. Does this sound familiar? You don’t work a traditional 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job, so you never know when to shut off the lights and call it a day.

There’s always something else that needs to be done and you don’t feel like you’ve earned the right to relax. Well, it’s important to understand that rest and relaxation don’t need to be earned. Some time away from the grind is beneficial to your mental health and your productivity.

Your business endeavors might never present you with a highlighted and underscored relaxation break. In other words, you’ll never be done, and you’ll never secure a rest if you don’t give yourself permission.

To achieve an optimized work-life balance, you should set a designated time for relaxation whether you feel as if you’ve earned it or not. Put the phone and laptop aside and recharge your batteries. Think of it as work if you have to but take that time to rest.

You think that anything that doesn’t earn money is a waste of time and energy.

Men who don’t have a healthy work-life balance often have a distorted perception about activities that don’t earn money. Activities like meditation, reading a good fiction book, or taking an art class are seen as wastes of time, money and energy.

That’s a narrow-minded viewpoint. You don’t need to always make money. The pursuit of wealth isn’t the only activity that enriches your life, either. There are plenty of complementary pursuits that enhance your life in other ways.

Ironically, men who have successful businesses or identify as the top 1% endeavor to enjoy their lives more and work less. Men who are on the grind and trying to claw their way to the top often overlook the activities that make them well-rounded, balanced Renaissance men that everyone loves and admires.

Related: 10 Ways Successful People Handle Stress

You might benefit from making a list of skills and abilities that you want to cultivate in your life. Have you ever wanted to learn how to rock climb? Well, it might not help you earn money, but learning a new skill can give you confidence and a sense of personal development. You’ll find that these pursuits are worth more than money.

You think that you have to become successful to be happy

Do you feel like happiness and the finer things in life are only waiting for you when you become successful? What does success look like to you? How do you know when you get there?

Businessmen often get into this mindset that happiness is reserved for them only when they pass some made-up threshold. Men like this work constantly and fall into the trap of losing the value of the moment. They miss so many opportunities to experience happiness because they glorify sacrifice.

Sacrifice is important and necessary to be successful. However, its not a badge that you need to wear in order to cross the goal line. Living in the moment gives you clarity; it gives you perspective. You don’t need to wait until you’re a millionaire or you’ve bought a house or any other metric of success to have a good time.

A healthy work-life balance appreciates the journey and celebrates every small victory along the way. Success is not a destination and your viewpoint of success will constantly change and evolve. So, don’t wait on glory moments to be happy. Find happiness in every phase and stage of your life.

Related: Lack of Work-Life Balance Can Lead to Exhaustion

A Final Word on Work-Life Balance

The pressure to be successful and meet the expectations of a hyper capitalist society can present significant challenges to your mental health. The more long days you put into work, the more likely you are to ruminate about work even when you’re not in the office.

It’s largely your responsibility to create a healthy work-life balance. That can be a good thing considering that you know what’s best when it comes to your own mental health needs. If you need to take a walk or a long bath to help you unwind, then feel free to set your own wellness routine.

The important thing is to remove the guilt and destructive thoughts that you might be having about taking time off. You should make a firm distinction between work mode and rest mode. Don’t blur the lines.

Work related stress can accumulate without much warning. So, keep track of your time off just like you keep track of how much time you spend working. Both are equally important. Recognize when you feel that nagging sense of guilt creeping into your conscious and remind yourself that work isn’t everything.

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