During my undergraduate years, I observed my peers partaking in a routine debate of ‘who is the most stressed’. My peers all fought to win the elitist academia position of ‘most stressed’. This superlative is so highly sought over, because our society has taught us the fool proof equation for success: stress + no sleep + personal sacrifice = success. In other words, my peers were not arguing about who was the most stressed, but who was the most successful. This belief has led to a lack of life balance and the consequences are catching up to us.
A lack of life balance can lead to: stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, social withdrawal, fatigue, loneliness, weakened immune system, disrupted sleep and so much more. Despite the many risks of not maintaining a healthy balance in life, it is rarely prioritized or discussed. Life balance is often referred to as ‘work-life balance’. The use of the word ‘work’ with ‘life balance’ is a strong indicator of how much emphasis and value is put on career. Society has glorified “the hustle” and, as a result, we have forgotten the value of balance.
Most hours of the week are spent at work and, as a result, it can be easy to forget about the other areas of life. It takes time, effort, thoughtfulness and a lot of hard work to live a balanced life. If you find yourself losing motivation remember this: A career is a part of your identity, but it is not the whole of who you are. To get you started on incorporating balance into your life, check out the exercise below to identify the important domains of your life.
Identifying Domains of Life Exercise:
I like to think of life as a pie chart, with each section representing a different domain. I like to use a pie chart because it is a great visual representation of the importance and amount of time designated to each domain. For this exercise, create a pie chart of how your life looks now: this should include the domains of life are you actively engaging in now and how much time is spent in each. After this is completed, create a second pie chart of what you want your life to look like, or how your life would be with balance. This is a great visual of how our values are being represented and which domains of life we are focusing on too much. Check out the examples below for some ideas.
Be creative with your pie chart; make it as simple or as complex as you would like! Life domains will be different for each individual and the value you place on each domain should be represented by the portion of the pie it takes up.