If saying “no” to work commitments is hard for you and, admit it, your personal life is coming in second place, then it’s likely you’re stuck in a downward spiral heading straight to burnout; and the whole idea of “work-life balance” is unraveling right before your eyes.
Let me tell you a story about this.
Recently I was invited to give a keynote speech to an amazing group of women physicians. And take a wild guess at what the topic was: Work-life balance.
The talk just happened to come right after Live Your Legend Founder Scott Dinsmore, known for being a huge proponent for loving your work and living in balance, was tragically killed in a freak accident on Kilimanjaro. He was 33 years old.
Scott was walking his talk and had decided to go “off grid” for two weeks during that trip. He opened up to his followers, and told us that he hadn’t really been offline in the five years since his honeymoon. (Can you relate?) He had found himself sucked in by work, just like the rest of us. So he set his boundaries and left with his wife to hike Kilimanjaro.
I don’t know about you, but as a person who has a hard time saying “no” to work and commitments, Scott’s death hit me like a ton of bricks.
I knew I had to tell his story, and share his philosophy with the doctors in my audience, just as I have to share it with you.
You see, those dedicated women who bothered to show up to our meeting that evening, did something that we all need to do more of – something we must take the time for if we want to avoid burnout. They chose connection that night. They chose to come together in a social situation, and get away from their work lives, to sit in a room together and connect.
Here’s why this type of connection matters:
We’re just not connecting anymore when we’re at work. We’re either plugged in and tuning out the world, or we’re running frantically to meet our patient’s needs, or make sure we serve our clients so that they’ll want to keep working with us. Life becomes a checklist and those to-do’s never stop piling up.
Did you know that lack of social connection poses a greater health hazard than some of the most common illnesses?
Not only is lack of connection worse than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure, but social isolation has even been linked to dementia.
The lack of connection in the workplace that so many of us experience can backfire, and result in LESS PRODUCTIVITY and LESS JOY at work.
What Scott Dinsmore was trying to get to for a while was connection – with his wife, with nature, with himself. And it’s the lack of connection that people like you and me struggle with every day.
So how exactly do you start to create that connection in your everyday life, without having to plan a big trip to get it?
Here are 3 work-life balance tips that’ll help you get back your personal life:
1. Declare a “no phone zone.” Whether it’s your bedroom or the dinner table, just say no. As surgeons, my husband and I can’t really keep the bedroom off-limits for emergency phone calls. But dinner time? It can wait. We have our phones out of the kitchen at dinner. That’s time to catch up with each other. Not our phones.
2. Carve out four hours on a weekend (not during your sleeping hours!) where you are totally offline. For me, it’s Sunday afternoon. We practice our electric guitars, share articles from the newspaper, even do laundry. All off the grid.
3. Search out a colleague or friend to actually have a chat with during the work week. Just to say hello. OMG, that sounds almost archaic, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised what happens when you actually meet or have a phone call with a colleague or friend. Usually, the timing is impeccable, and they are going through something similar to what you’re going through. The last time I did this, it turns out that my friend was really needing someone who could just deeply listen. It made the world of difference in the rest of her week.
Bottom line: Fostering connection can improve all aspects of your world.
So, how are you going to make time for the things that really matter, so you can connect?
Rather than being a doormat to other people’s desires, remember that YOU are the master of your fate.
What’s one way that you seek out connection on a regular basis? Share it in the comments below.