Work life balance isn’t really about balance. The truth is, work life balance is more complex than the traditional either/or equation. And that means that how to measure work life balance is more complex too.
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The Components of Achieving Work-Life Balance
If it’s not about balance, what is it about? In coaching clients around this, I’ve discovered that work life balance isn’t achieved until each of the following three components is met:
- Purpose: feeling like your life has purpose + meaning.
- Peace: feeling calm (instead of anxious or stressed) while being at peace with your decisions and the path you’re on.
- Prosperity of time, energy, and spirit: feeling energized by and passionate about your life because you have the time for your true priorities and know that you’re making the best decisions possible for yourself and your family.
I’ve discussed these three work life balance components before (if you haven’t read this article yet, go read it now).
Today, I want to focus on something that’s missing from the traditional either/or equation invoked by the work versus life discussion. Work life balance is about how you feel.
Why Feelings Are the Key to Finding Balance in Life
Look again at what people really want when they’re looking for more balance: they want to feel a certain way. The reason this is so important is that your feelings shape your reality. Everything you do and every decision you make is based in how you feel about something (they are what ultimately motivate you).
What creates those feelings? Your thoughts and beliefs about:
- who you are;
- your circumstances;
- the people in your life;
- the world around you; and
- how you fit into the world.
Unfortunately, feelings – and the thoughts and beliefs that create them – are complex and complicated. And they sure as heck aren’t one-size-fits-all. That’s why the typical solutions don’t work: productivity hacks and time management skills are one-size-fits-all “solutions” to simple issues that don’t get to the heart of why you feel out-of-balance.
The reason we’ve come up with the wrong solutions is because we’re asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking how to achieve “balance”, the real question is how can you feel fulfilled, at peace, and prosperous in life? I know, it sounds complicated.
The Road Map to Work Life Balance
Finding “balance” is more complex than society typically treats it. To achieve your version of balance, you must be willing to do some personal development work. But that doesn’t mean that the solution isn’t simple. You need three things to feel balanced:
- Clarity. You must have clarity around what gives you purpose and meaning so that you can create your road map to sustainable success (in your career and life) on your own terms.
- Confidence. Most people think this piece is hard, but it’s not as difficult as you’d think (self-confidence is built through intentional action, not something you’re born with). Once you cultivate trust and confidence in yourself and your decisions, then you’ll naturally start course correcting where needed. And that’s when you’re ready to…
- Control. Most people try to control the wrong things (that aren’t controllable). This step is about learning to let go of those things and instead take full-out control over you by living in alignment with what gives you purpose and also through cultivating a mentally resilient mindset.
Here’s the problem: this sounds scary to most people because it involves taking 100% responsibility for yourself and your life. But I want you to know that this doesn’t have to be hard or scary. It can actually be fun (think about how you’ll feel once you get clarity, gain the self-confidence to move forward, and take control of your life).
The good news is that each of these 3 steps is grounded in ONE thing: your core values. Your core values are KEY to finding your version of “balance” and must be understood if you want to learn how to measure your current work life balance and fix it for good.
How Your Core Values Lead to Balance
Your core values are what give you meaning and purpose in life. They’re also a big determinant to how you feel. When you align your life around your values, you’ll feel satisfied and content. And when you don’t, you’ll feel as if something is wrong with you and your life.
Not only that, but your core values are your guide to putting together your road map to success on your terms. They’re your internal compass for how you view success, what your priorities are, and how to achieve what you want out of life.
If you haven’t read any of my previous articles regarding core values, read this one (it will explain everything you need to know about how values work and why they matter so much) before moving on. Once you understand your core values, you can start measuring your current work life balance levels to identify how to make it better.
How to Measure Work Life Balance Without Feeling Discouraged
Because work is such a big component of your life, you’ll begin by measuring your level of work fulfillment on a stand-alone basis. Then, you’ll move into a broad measurement of all major categories of your life (which will include your work life and the rest of your life too).
The Basic Formula for How to Measure Work Life Balance
Here’s the formula for how to measure work life balance:
- Measure your level of work satisfaction in the following categories (each component to be scored on a sliding scale of 0-10):
- Time Commitment
- Stress + Anxiety Levels
- Work Relationships
- Divide your score from #1 above by 10. This is your work satisfaction score (and will be used in #3 below).
- Using the Wheel of Life (see below), measure your satisfaction in each category below on a sliding scale of 0-10:
- Career (use the score from #2 above here)
- Non-Romantic Relationships
- Physical + Mental Health
- Spiritual Fulfillment
- Fun + Recreation
- Personal Growth + Development
To help you out, I’ve created The Work Life Balance Worksheet so that you can keep track of your score and more easily identify where to start making simple changes. Grab a copy of your worksheet here:
How to Use Your Core Values When Measuring Work Life Balance
When measuring each category in steps #1 and #3 above, first think about your bigger vision for your life, who you want to be, and what you want out of your life and your career with your values in mind. This bigger vision must be grounded in your values. Also, ask yourself what a 10 would look like, assuming that component aligned perfectly with your values.
Use your core values as your guide to determining which components are most important to you and how each one is defined. Although I give some basic definitions below to get you started, you must determine what they mean to you based on your priorities and vision for your career and life.
[Recommended Reading: How to Achieve Work Life Balance (When You Don’t Want to Settle & It Feels Impossible)].
How to Stay Positive Instead of Being Discouraged
The formula above takes into account all of the major components that determine how you feel about your work life balance. and it simplifies them. This simplification is key, as it makes it easier to determine where you want to make changes.
The formula is measurable and will help spur you into action. Once you identify where you’re off, you’ll start to become aware of why. And the why is what will give you the answer to how to make changes for the better.
There’s something about getting into action. It motivates and energizes you. And that’s what this formula is designed to do. It will help you transform from feeling out of balance (with little control over it) to in control and motivated to do something about it.
Measuring Work Fulfillment
Let’s go through the components in Step 1 above in more detail.
Component 1: Development
This is about your skills (including your leadership skills) and knowledge. When measuring this component, consider:
- Your current skills, leadership abilities, and knowledge + whether they meet the expectations of your employer.
- Opportunities for further development of skills and knowledge + whether it’s encouraged.
Component 2: Performance
Performance relates to how well you perform (as determined by your superiors) and your motivation levels. You’ll want to take into consideration:
- performance evaluations;
- how you feel you perform;
- your motivation levels for performing well (versus not caring to); and
- how engaged you are (and want to be) at work.
Component 3: Productivity
Productivity encompasses numerous factors, such as time-management skills, your ability to prioritize and stay focused, and your ability to be efficient while producing good work product (and also meeting deadlines). When looking at this component, be sure to think about what about your work environment and company culture affects your productivity levels.
Component 4: Recognition
Recognition is about receiving the compensation, promotions, and also verbal recognition you feel you deserve. Ask yourself how well your superiors and the company overall meets these expectations.
Component 5: Collaboration
Collaboration isn’t the same thing as communication. It’s about working with others to produce something. When reviewing this component, consider:
- company culture;
- how collaborative those you work with are; and
- your ability/willingness to be collaborative (and why that is).
Component 6: Communication
The communication component goes both ways (how others communicate with you and how well you communicate with others you work with, both upstream and downstream). Consider the following:
- how often (and well) the company communicates it’s policies, goals, and mission/vision;
- whether you’re clear on what’s expected of you;
- whether and how you receive feedback (including how you feel about that feedback);
- your communication skills with those you manage (including how often you give feedback and how it’s perceived by others);
- communication between you and your superiors; and
- your communication skills with peers.
Component 7: Time Commitment + Flexibility
This component includes time spent working, where you work from, and expectations about how often/much you should work. Take into account all of the following:
- how often you feel the need to work on weekends and in the evening;
- how often you feel the need to check emails off-hours; and
- whether and how often you take vacation (and actually leave work behind).
Component 8: Stress + Anxiety Levels
Take a look at how often you feel stressed and/or anxious because of work. Consider the following:
- how stressed and anxious you tend to feel;
- what causes it; and
- how often it occurs.
[Stressed-out and overwhelmed from work? Read 5 Strategies for Reducing Stress and Anxiety at Work].
Component 9: Work Relationships
This component is about how well you’ve formed trusting relationships with those you work with and how supported you feel from those relationships. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a trusted mentor that you go to for advice and support?
- How well do you trust people you manage (e.g., can you trust to delegate to work to them or feel like there’s reason to always be looking over their shoulder)?
- How well do you get along with peers? Can you confide in them and receive support when needed?
Component 10: Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is necessary for you to be your best at work. When measuring your self-confidence levels, consider:
- how often you speak up to give your opinion or share knowledge;
- how often you ask for help (without worrying about what someone will think);
- whether you ask for new challenges; and
- whether fear of failure limits your willingness to do any of the above.
[Does fear of how you’ll look to others or fear of failing keep you from speaking up and sharing your knowledge and opinions? Discover How to Be More Self-Confident at Work by Changing Your Mindset].
Measuring Overall Life Balance Using the Wheel of Life
After you’ve measured your satisfaction levels within your career, it’s time to put that score into the Wheel of Life and score the rest of it. Here’s what the Wheel of Life looks like:
To use the Wheel of Life, measure your satisfaction level for each of the below categories on a scale of 0 to a 10:
Career: how satisfied are you in total when it comes to your career (use your score from Step #2 above)?
Finances: Do you earn enough to meet your current needs? Are you saving for the future? How do you feel about your financial wealth, both now and in the future?
Non-Romantic Relationships: Do you feel supported and loved by friends and family? Are you socializing enough with friends and family? How present are you when with friends and family? What is your relationship with your kids?
Romance: do you feel loved by your partner? If you don’t have someone, how do you feel about that? How often do you express love to your partner? How you you feel about your intimacy levels with your partner?
Physical & Mental Health: how physically healthy are you? Are you physically fit (and how satisfied with your current fitness level)? How is your diet? What quality of sleep do you get? Do you feel mentally well? How often do you feel stressed and/or anxious? How self-confident are you? What is your level of self-care?
Spiritual: how connected do you feel to yourself? Do you feel connected to a higher purpose and/or being? Are you satisfied with your relationship with your spiritual higher being?
Fun + Recreation: are you having fun in life (on a daily basis)? How often do you laugh and goof off? Do you have hobbies that you have time for? Are you satisfied with the amount of time you have for fun and recreation and what you do for fun?
Personal Growth + Development: Are you satisfied with who you are and where you’re going in life? Do you seek new experiences in life? How is your mentality around growth and learning? How do you feel about yourself (do you love, respect and appreciate yourself)?
Go with the first number that pops into your head (don’t overthink it). Be sure to use your career satisfaction score determined above for the Career category.
How to Use Your Scores
The point of this exercise is to raise your awareness of where you are right now and what needs the most attention. Pay attention to any area where you scored below a 6. These are areas for immediate improvement. Please note: review both your Wheel of Life Scores and each component that goes into your Career Fulfillment score.
Ask yourself the following questions for anything below a 6:
- Why is this below a 6?
- What can I do about this right now (if anything)?
- What are some long-term goals that would change this score?
Don’t forget that your life is an integrated sum of all parts (none of these categories stands alone). That means that changes to one area will likely affect another – both positively and negatively.
Finally, take action. Pick 1-2 areas for improvement and get started. Once implemented, keep going based on what needs improvement next.
The goal is to not just raise lower scores on the Wheel of Life, but to make it less bumpy (so that it actually looks like a wheel).
So, what area will you be focusing on first?
Until next time…
P.S. Don’t forget to download your Work Life Balance Formula Worksheet so that you can stop feeling overwhelmed by your life and instead start feeling in control and at peace.