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Is Your Work-Life Balance Out of Whack?


CAREER CORNER by Maribeth Gunner Pulliam, MS Ed

The vast majority of Excelsior College students are working adults, balancing family, career, college, and community responsibilities. It can often be a juggling act at best! As work obligations, course deadlines, and family needs prevail, many wonder how to manage it all and still preserve balance and harmony in life.

What Exactly is Work-life Balance?

In general, work-life balance entails fostering the right combination of participation among all life roles. It includes the interaction among paid work, family activities, personal develop- ment, community events, favorite pastimes and hobbies. Work-life balance is a commonly used term, but has a different meaning for each individual. There is no “one-size fits all” formula. We all have different values, aspirations, and commitments that drive us, as well as our own unique methods of arranging and allocating our time. Career experts are quick to point out that the phrase “work-life balance” can be misleading; it implies a false dichotomy of two separate and equal parts — work and life. On the contrary, our lives and careers are inex- tricably intertwined and multifaceted. They are not so easily divided or calibrated. Developing a healthy balance between work and life is truly an individual process that changes over time, depending on life stages, goals, and the current socio–economic climate.

What Factors Affect Work-life Balance?

We live in a 24/7 society. Changing social demands, increasing globalization, shifting demographics, varying economic conditions, and rapidly growing information and communication technology options are some of the factors that significantly impact how we approach our lives and careers.

Consider a few current trends:

Changes in the workplace — Employees operate in an ever-changing, fast-paced workforce. Job mobility has increased. There are no longer jobs for life or guaranteed job security. Due to increased technology, many jobs that exist today may be reconfigured or eventually become obsolete. For some occupational fields, jobs that will be popular in 20 years have not even been created yet!

Option overload — As we attempt to balance our daily routine, we also experience an inordinate amount of choices. We can choose among an array of foods, restaurants, mobile devices, cars, movies, clothing, and more. We are offered many ways to better our health, diet, parenting, and education. If you’re still not sure, comparison shopping is only a click away on the Internet. Although most often embraced, ample choice can also lead to arduous decision-making. Continuously discerning how to allocate our energy and resources among multiple options can create more of a drain on already overscheduled time.

Family dynamics in flux — Both single- and dual-income families in today’s society are significantly affected by the competing demands of life and career. For parents working outside the home, multitasking is commonplace as they face both child care and elder care issues. With so much to juggle, it can be challenging for working adults to carve out time for family, recreation, educational pursuits, community services, exercise, and other leisure activities.

How Do You Know if You’re Out of Sync?

We all have days when we feel a lack of control; that we’re falling behind; or out of step. However, when this feeling becomes the rule instead of the exception, we may be teetering on the edge of imbalance. For some, devoting an excessive amount of time to work leaves little room for other important discretionary activities. Tipping the scale too far to one side can result in negative implications such as increased stress, poor health, relationship issues, job burnout, and overall dissatisfaction in life.

Get Back On Track!

Feel like your work-life balance is off the mark? Consider it an opportunity to create a workable balance. Regain a sense of control, flexibility, and gratification in your everyday personal and professional life. It’s within your reach!

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