If you follow this blog, you probably have struggled at one point or another with maintaining work-life balance. This is not uncommon, although many don’t even consider failing to do so can, and most often times is, a major source of stress in their lives.
I have always been fascinated with, and truly disturbed by, the “work hard, then die” mentality that so many Americans have. This is prevalent in the baby boomer and generation X populations, more so than millennials. However, as millennials, we have been raised by parents who invented the 50 hour work week, believe being seen on the job is the vital to having success, and have a reputation of being workaholics. As millennials, our philosophies are in contradiction with our parents, and because our parents view our work ethic through the lens of their generation, we are oftentimes viewed as “lazy.” This simply isn’t true. As a generation, we believe that quitting time is quitting time, and view work as a way to fill time between the moments of our “life” where we spend more time involved in the larger community and working to develop ourselves through training and acquiring new skills. This suggests support, as a generation, for the phrase “work to live, not live to work.” This is very much unlike the generations before us. Baby boomers worried that taking time off would result in losing their position on the team at work, and generation Xers who focus on work-life balance, but fail to incorporate community contribution and self-improvement as top priorities.
Other variances are due to the differences in relationship each generation has with technology. For millennials, we were practically born with technology at our finger tips. (Funny side note: When I visited Japan in middle school, I recall being astounded at the sight of all of these children my age and younger attached to advanced cell phones—little did I know, this would be the future for Americans within only a short span of time 🙂 We actually made a joke saying that these children came out of the womb with cell phones!). For our parents, they either learned how to navigate technology during their lifetime or had to learn to embrace it in their lives. Because of this intimate relationship millennials have with technology, we believe that we can work flexibly from anywhere in the world, and at any time. In addition to this, we feel that our work performance should be evaluated on the final product, not how, when, or where we completed the work. Millennials appreciate the ability to be creative with how they accomplish work tasks. When this creativity is stifled, our work motivation and job satisfaction decrease.
I could not agree more with this!!! This is exactly why I chose to leave my 9-5 and to pursue my dreams of financial freedom! In addition to the freedom associated with time and location independence I was seeking, I no longer found my job meaningful or challenging.. which is another indication of a millennial in the work place! Having a job where we feel that we can truly make a difference, contribute to change, and continue to develop our skills is paramount. If these things are no longer present, many millennials look to move on. This is exactly what I have done! Other generations would say that millennials are “obsessed” with career development. I am not sure why this is viewed as a bad thing?!?! Of course, this could become problematic if it begins to take priority over work-life-community-self balance.
Millennials have also been accused of being “viciously independent.” This attribute alongside our reputation of being the best educated generation, thus far, contributes to our drive and ability to follow our passions in life! We have a globalized way of thinking and wish to leave a footprint on the world through giving to others, so it is no wonder that we wish to take our ideas across the world!
So, if you are a millennial, achieving balance between work, play, community engagement, and self-development is vital to promoting positive mental health.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to assess your level of work-life balance and areas where you can improve!
- Are you prioritizing your personal wants/needs/desires alongside those work-related tasks?
- What do you do for fun?
- Do you find yourself saying “yes” to tasks and commitments when you know you don’t really have time?
- Do you inventory your time prior to saying “yes” to a new task or commitment?
- Do you have a daily planner?
- How often are you working out or exercising each week?
- This can be walking, jogging, team sports, yoga, etc.
- Do you ever take time to disconnect from technology/social media?
- Have you scheduled down time or “me” time?
- Is your down time the first to be compromised when a new task is added to your “to-do” list?
- Do you find yourself talking about or worrying about work-related issues while at home?
- Have your family members or friends told you that you spend too much time involved in work-related activities (i.e., conference calls, answering phone calls, responding to texts, scheduling meetings, etc.) while you are supposed to be spending quality time with them?
Here is a sheet for those of you who would like to print these warning signs that indicate your work-life balance may be out of whack!
Over the next week, keep track of how you are spending your time and work toward achieving better work/life balance by:
- Schedule 30 minutes of “me time” each day to decompress/prepare for your day
- Buy a planner to help keep track of your commitments
- Before automatically saying “yes” to a favor, task, or commitment, evaluate your schedule and ask yourself if you have time for another new task (P.S. don’t compromise your “me” time. This is an appointment you made with yourself, don’t break it!)
- At least 3 times each week, take at least 30 minutes to go for a walk, jog, or other physical activity that gets your heart rate up!
- Place a rubber band on your wrist, and each time you have a thought or begin to talk about work while at home, snap the band to refocus, and be present in the moment!
Ask a friend to participate in this challenge with you! We are always more successful when we have an accountability partner! Did you feel better after making some of these simple changes?
As always, please feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns here!