Career Wellness: How to improve your work and life balance

by: Kris Kirilova

Kris is a counselor & owner of Career Life Choices – a counseling practice in Arlington Heights, IL.

In my practice, as a therapist, I often see clients who desire to make career or life changes, and to improve their overall well-being. They aim to create a better version of themselves and have more work-life balance.

So can you have it all? 

According to a Gallup study on well-being, people who are happy and satisfied attend to 5 major elements of wellness:

1. career wellness

2. social connections

3. physical health

4. financial stability

5. community.

What is career wellness?  Career wellness means doing meaningful work that fits with who you are. It is also about creating a balance among different life roles and priorities.  This means if you are burned out at work, this will impact your person personal well-being, emotions, and relationships.

How to improve your career and well-being? 

1. Evaluate your situation.

The first step is to assess your situation and what is most important to you at this time. Are there any events in your life that prompt you to make a change? These could be dissatisfaction, mid-life crisis, or major life events such as birth, marriage, or divorce. The search is not just about finding a new job. It is about is discovering “you”, re-evaluating your priorities, and what would bring more meaning into your life.

2. Develop a growing mindset.

It is normal to have some fears and doubts as you’re thinking about a change. Develop a mindset that would allow you to grow instead of letting your fears take control.

Many people desire to make a change but they struggle with “yes, buts”. You often hear them say – “Yes, but how would I do that? What if this does not work?” Or “I don’t want to take a salary cut, and I don’t want to lose my vacation time.” Sometimes we work against our own best interest or have hard time with making the right choices. Shift your focus:

What if things do work out? What life or career do you imagine? What if you take some small steps to help you flourish? How would things be different?

Money buys happiness only to a certain level. How long are you willing to wear the golden handcuffs for? A salary cut may be necessary to transition to a new field or more fulfilling position. Increase your ability for delayed gratification, but also remain realistic about the long term prospects of the new career you are considering.

3. Balance work with life.

Can you have it all?  – a great career, good salary, and plenty of time for your family? It is difficult to excel in all areas of life, and I see many women who want to excel in the workplace, and be the best mom and wife at home. Accept the fact that you cannot be perfect in all areas.

It is important to set some boundaries because it is easy to end up in a cycle of constant work.

Think about how do you define success?

What are your current priorities and how can you set some boundaries. May be you want to leave the office at 5pm so you can have enough time for your family.  If you have a high pressure job, expecting you to work 60-80 hours a week – it is probably time to think about a different industry or position.

What different choices do you need to make?  Is it all about the money, the next promotion or something else in your life  such as a meaningful relationship or more personal time? What does it mean to have it all?

4. Make space for hobbies.

May be you want to bring a different side of you without quitting your job.  If it is difficult to give up that income and job security, a creative outlet can let you express something that is suppressed at work.

Make space for a hobby, sign up for a class or volunteer as a way to learn new things, make new connections, and satisfy your curiosity. Connect with a non-profit organization, learn a foreign language, or start playing an instrument.

Discover what is missing and what part of you wants to come to life… What roles and activities you want to take outside of the office?

Finding a balance, and tuning into our inner most desires and priorities is the first step you can take to improve your well-being.  Even though things may be messy or uncertain, they will prompt you to discover your best traits, desires, and create a better balance.  You have unwritten pages in front of you – be open to the possibilities, and what would be the ideal mix of activities to improve your career and well-being.

As a therapist, Kris Kirilova offers confidential virtual therapy assisting with stress management, career burnout, transitions, and providing practices to recover, heal, and prosper.

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