Work Life Balance is a Real Thing
Have you ever considered how your happiness at home affects your career? Or, on the flip side, how chaos in your life affects your chances for growth at work? Many managers believe that the elements of your personal life that “go wrong” tend to be the same characteristics or problems that you have at work, such as being a good communicator or always feeling like you need to be productive. Many working individuals can experience stress and pressure when trying to manage their demands both inside and outside of work, but reaching a balance between these two spheres can lead to a happier and more productive life.
One element of home life that can affect one’s career is a spousal relationship. If you are a planner and like to look ahead in your life, it’s difficult to mesh with someone who does not have the detail or ability to plan, and you feel like you always have to be in charge. Your spouse may not be doing this purposefully, and they could have other great qualities that you love, such as creativity and an affinity for community outreach. Therefore, knowing what you want and the strengths of your spouse, and playing to those, as well as be willing to compromise, are important for a healthy work/life balance.
A potentially larger problem is long discussions at home which do not allow you to rest or have any down time between being at home and being at work. The energy that you need for family fun, recuperation, and work can be spent in an unrestful state if household discussions do not go smoothly. This leads to miscommunication and time wasted on small differences instead of rest and relaxation. It’s important for couples who have problems understanding each other to take a break and even go to the movies for a fun outing, break the conversation into parts, or have the conversation over breakfast on a Saturday morning (i.e. having a breakfast date as a family meeting) to diffuse the trying discussion. Although long discussions are a problem, it’s better to have long conversations rather than not communicating at all.
A study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis found that your spouse’s personality can affect your workplace success. The five-year study focused on five broad aspects of personality, including openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness. In about 75% of these households both spouses worked. It found that workers with the most success in their jobs had significant others who scored high for conscientiousness, which is a tendency to be organized, dependable, self-disciplined, and achievement-oriented. These spouses tend to complete more day-to-day tasks, model healthy habits, and help to keep their spouse’s working life running smoothly. Thus, it is important to consider how our own personalities affect our partners and their lives at work.
Many managers have also found that those individuals with the toughest personal lives had difficulty figuring out what to do next and were in a stint in the careers. Your personal life, then, can not only affect you in your current job but also when it comes to deciding how to take you career to the next level, get more opportunities for growth, or even shift into your dream job. Some individuals are capable of separating these two aspects of their lives, but they can be less likely to take healthy risks in their occupations. William Faulkner wrote that, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” Without risks, and a supportive home life to encourage you, you stagnate while those around you tend to grow and flourish. Therefore, open communication and searching for resources that can help you balance your personal and work life will create opportunities for happiness and success in both aspects of your life!