By Marva Titley-Smith
For all the go-getters out there, there’s a question that begs asking. It’s simply this: do you have a life? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put you on the spot. In fact, it’s a question I often ask myself.
You see, when you are focused on your goals — whether that’s climbing the corporate ladder, setting up your side-hustle, or putting aside enough funds for the family cruise – it’s super easy to let work take over your life.
And that’s just it.
You still need to have a life.
You know, the rest of it. The parts of your life outside of work.
Because, while it may feel like life is all about your work right now, there are other areas of your life you want to maintain for your own sake and sanity. Trust me, I know.
When I ventured into the world of self-employment six years ago, I wanted so badly to make it work (I still do). But I also knew that I wanted to be mom to my then 6 and 8-year old. I still wanted to be wife to my husband, daughter to my parents, sister to … you get the idea. I still wanted to have a life.
I don’t pretend to have it all together (I don’t think you really ever do, but that’s another article). Still, I believe it’s possible to have a career/business AND have a life. As a matter of fact, I’d say it’s necessary.
So, here are three questions I’ve had to ask myself to help me keep my work and life in perspective. I’m sharing them here in the event they might help you too.
I’m the type of person who wants to give my all to whatever I set out to do and if you’re reading this, that might be you too. That’s why it’s important to set priorities. While I want to do well in my business, I know it’s only one area of my life, so I often have to step back and ask myself what’s important.
Areas such as my relationship with God, my marriage, being there for my children – all those things are important to me, so I make it my goal to carve out time for them. Another area to pay attention to is your health because too often we put our health in jeopardy when we are working long and crazy hours.
Determine the areas of your life you want to give attention to and make a plan to include them. You may want to ask yourself this question as you do your monthly planning so that your priorities don’t fall off the radar.
If it’s one thing I know to be true is that the work never ends. When you’re working for yourself, you’re probably the CEO, accountant, marketing manager and the copy guy. So, there’s additional pressure making you feel like you have to work double-time.
If you’re working for someone else and have goals beyond your current position, you’re probably spending a good chunk of time going the extra mile.
But here’s the thing. No matter how much I push myself to get everything done today, there’ll always be more work waiting for me tomorrow. It’s tempting to keep working late into the night and early in the morning, so this is an area I have to be very intentional about.
To combat this, set clear limits around what’s enough. What’s your cut off time? How many extra hours will you work? Will you work extra hours at all?
Remember, time is finite. You can’t spend it twice. The more time you spend at work, the less time you have for the people in your life and for your other interests, so use your time wisely.
Another area where I ask myself ‘how much is enough’ is around money goals. This means setting some income goals for myself, otherwise, I’d probably keep pushing myself to make more and more money.
Now, I know you might be wondering if making more money isn’t the reason you’re working in the first place. While that might be true, working more hours in order to make more money isn’t always the solution. It can become a vicious cycle that never ends.
When in doubt about what’s enough, just go back to question number one – what’s important.
At first glance, it might look like work is rewarding. You work, you get paid. So, you work some more. But when it gets to the point that your work is no longer paying you back, it’s time to make some changes.
Take a closer look. Is your work costing you your health? Is it costing you your relationship with your children? Are you working every weekend and don’t have time for friends? Are you working too much to go to church? Is your peace of mind suffering because of your work?
What is it costing you? And is that a cost you’re willing to pay?
If the cost of your work is too high, plan to make some changes to get your life back.
These are just a few questions I ask myself occasionally to ensure my work doesn’t take over my life. Sure, my work is important to me, but I know it’s only one aspect of my life. As for the other parts of my life, I want them to still be there when I’m no longer working. Asking these questions helps me keep things in perspective so that I can thrive in all areas of my life now and well into the future.
How about you? Which of these questions hit home? Are there others you would add? Get in touch and let me know. I’d love to hear how you balance work and life.
Marva Titley-Smith, Certified Life Coach
Marva is a work and life coach with a passion for helping women thrive in all areas of life. She’s the BVI’s first local female architect and former Chief Planner. In 2012, after 26 years in the Public Service, she successfully transitioned careers and founded the management consultancy firm MatrixSpark specializing in strategic management training and coaching. She continues to welcome reinvention and is always on the lookout for what God is doing next.
You can find her writing about work-life balance and intentional living on her website www.MarvaSmith.com.