The Good Life: Balancing the Professional and the Personal
Work • Life • Balance: “The need to equalize performance excellence and physical and psychosocial needs.” –Brian Black
In the 1970s, the term “work/life balance” surfaced along with the emergence of highly competitive corporate environments. Companies demanded long hours from employees who competed for a limited number of better-paying positions. And now, nearly 40 years later, some professionals are still struggling to keep their personal lives intact while meeting work demands.
Brian Black, a University of Phoenix faculty member with a Master of Arts in Teaching Business Education, says, “Work/life balance is an ongoing challenge for most consummate professionals. The quest for performance excellence is always in demand with the need to ensure personal wellness. The goal is to strike a balance between performance excellence and physical and psychosocial needs.”
The importance of work/life balance affects career plans and the prevention of stress-related health problems such as high blood pressure or heart disease. Mental illness, such as depression, can also be a byproduct of employees who work too much.
Creating a personal life becomes challenging when employees find themselves in these two scenarios:
- An employee doesn’t have an understanding of adequate boundaries between work and personal activities.
- A workplace’s culture values an unbalanced lifestyle, where workers are encouraged to put in many overtime hours.
Employees can find solutions by simply reprioritizing and deciphering what behaviors and time are truly needed to sustain one’s work-life and home-life.
Black, a “recovering workaholic,” says that he was given helpful advice to assist him in rebuilding his personal life. “Whenever you say ‘yes’ to something, pause and make sure you evaluate what you are saying ‘no’ to such as family obligations, personal time,” says Black. “Once you do this evaluation, you will find it is easier to say ‘no’ to things.”
Another important factor in creating a personal life is to find a support system for encouraging you to enjoy relaxation time. However, even with the best cheerleaders on your team, the ultimate change comes from a personal decision. “The fact of the matter is achieving work/life balance is ultimately up to the individual,” says Black. “For those who are workaholics, like me, no matter what support systems are applied to assist, until there is a self awareness that the need for work/life balance is essential for future success, then no program or assistance will be successful.”
Pick Your Level
Black says that when people constantly strive for high-quality levels with each work task, then it makes it difficult to delegate jobs or be satisfied with less-than-perfect performance.
“My drive to be the best creates an ongoing sense of urgency and stress that is not always necessary,” he says. “I will always be committed to performance excellence, but I am learning that you cannot go above and beyond all the time. However, as long as the result meets the minimum requirement, then it is okay.”
Black says understanding your job and picking the levels of performance for each task can help create more time for a personal life. He adds, “I have come to learn when I need to require the highest levels of excellence, and when a lesser level of excellence will suffice. This analysis has helped me to become more balanced.”