Maintaining a balance between work and home can be trying under the best of circumstances. But not only is work-life balance achievable, it’s essential for maintaining health and happiness during what is arguably one of life’s top stressors — a career change.
WHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE MATTERS DURING A CAREER CHANGE
Work-life balance always matters, but it’s especially important during a career change, because career changes require work, commitment and discipline. If you don’t take care to balance all your responsibilities during this transition, you’ll end up feeling stressed, overwhelmed and off center. In other words, balance is key to meeting your personal and professional goals.
During this phase in particular, it may be tempting to spend the lion’s share of your discretionary time in pursuit of your new career, but you’ll invite burnout, compromised health, and the loss of precious time with friends and family when you do. On the flip side, if you don’t carve out enough time to launch that new career, you probably won’t achieve the success you’d like.
So, how can you maintain the balance between work and home during a career change? The following strategies are very effective:
Forget perfection. When you have multiple interests and responsibilities, “good enough” is a realistic and healthy goal. While investing in your career change, the house might not get cleaned as often, the laundry might get washed only once a week, and you might eat more takeout, but it’s OK. Real change requires some sacrifices.
Say “no” more often. Overscheduling yourself is a surefire path to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. To achieve greater balance, one of the most important words you can add to your vocabulary is “no.” You may have trouble using this word because you worry about hurting others’ feelings, appearing as though you’re not a “team player” or even seeming like you’re weak. However, by respecting your limits, setting boundaries, and prioritizing your commitments, you can better manage your time and achieve what is really important to you.
Practice deep breathing. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, the fastest way to slow your body’s physiological stress response is to engage in deep diaphragmatic breathing. While breathing in through your nose, concentrate on filling your belly with air like a balloon. Hold your breath for a count of 2, then, exhale slowly through your mouth until your belly flattens. Breaths should be at a ratio of 1:2, with exhales about twice as long as inhales. Try counting to 4 as you inhale, hold for the count of 2, then exhale to the count of 8. Continue this pattern for at least 60 seconds.
Try meditating. More and more studies are showing that meditation can help with everything from stress to sleep. The exercise of focusing your mind reinforces the principle that you have the power to choose your thoughts. With regular practice, you will feel more positive, focused and calm. Start by scheduling two minutes first thing in the morning. Once you are comfortable with two minutes, try five — then grow your practice.
Ask for help. No doubt about it, preparing for a career change is going to put a dent in your personal time. However, it’s worth it, and you don’t have to go it alone. Tap into your support system. Maybe your partner or kids need to pitch in more around the house. Perhaps your mom or a friend could babysit or mind the dog while you attend that networking event after work. If you need it, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s natural to feel a sense of urgency during a career transition, especially if your ability to pay the bills is riding on your immediate efforts. However, the best approach is to take small, actionable, intentional steps each day in order to make progress and maintain momentum toward your goals. (Download our free e-book for additional, powerful strategies.)
Are there any other strategies you’ve used for maintaining work-life balance?