We often read about the importance of establishing goals in our careers. Most meeting professionals have a sense of what it takes to reach those goals, but how often do we look at goals in our personal lives?
We fixate on the revenue we’ll attain, the budget we’ll meet, the deadlines we’ll honor and the progress we’ll make but often have no counterbalancing focus on maintaining a work-life balance in the process.
It’s admirable to complete a project on budget, but if you’ve lost your leisure time, jeopardized your health, failed to enjoy your weekends and made work your reason for being, career success can become one long series of tasks, and you end up asking yourself huge quality-of-life questions: What is life all about? Why am I here? Is that all there is?
Work-life balance goals let you achieve career success and enjoy yourself along the way. One of my favorite sayings is, “If you’re too busy to enjoy your life, you’re too busy.” So, how often in the course of a month do you have truly relaxing weekends? One? Wonderful! Two or three? Even better.
Unfortunately, some people let the concerns of the workweek spill into the weekend. They bring work home, check and recheck mobile devices and stay electronically connected at all times.
Worse, their mindset is one of being continually “on” just like they’re “on” during the workweek. They don’t let go of their work responsibilities even when with their family or hiking along a trail. Their pre-occupation prevents them from being present.
Sleep on it
Sleep is a work-life goal that’s immediately rewarding and will help you throughout your career. Adults typically need eight hours of sleep a night, but in most industrialized nations, the average is 6.2 hours.
If you fall below the eight-hour mark, what can you do to rearrange your work life, home life, bedroom, relationships and mindset? Are there extraneous activities you could eliminate? Could you surf the Web or text message less? Watch one less TV show?
You know what time you need to wake each morning, so obviously, go to bed at the right time. In as little as two weeks your body will adjust and you won’t need an alarm clock. When you can skip the alarm, you’ve naturally achieved the amount of sleep you needed that night. Bottom line: Establish a routine where you awake naturally in eight hours. It’s the clearest you’re getting enough sleep.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for effective sleep:
- Don’t have a TV in your bedroom.
- Do make the room a little cooler than normal.
- Do soundproof the room as best as you can.
- Do turn illuminated clock dials and digital readouts away from you.
- Do have a good mattress.
- Do not drink too many liquids within two or three hours of retiring.
Bite into lunch
How many leisurely lunches do you have in a week? The kind where you leave your desk and go to a restaurant, lunch counter or park, where you eat in peace, experience the food, digest well, linger for a moment and, when ready, head back to work.
If you never do this, set a goal of one per week. If you already have one or two per week, add another. The benefits will accrue if you take five to seven leisurely lunches each month. You’ll return to work less stressed, more energized and better able to meet the afternoon’s challenges. Or try packing five lunches on Sunday night, freeze them and grab one each day as you head out. You’ll be controlling your time and what goes into your lunch.
Take a break!
Do you give yourself short mental breaks at work or do you barrel through? Even taking 10 one-minute breaks throughout an eight-hour day is healthier than working straight through. Pausing for as little as 60 seconds recharges your batteries and makes you more effective when you get back to it. Giving yourself brief, strategic pauses increases your stamina, focus and effectiveness long-term. Several new studies also show that you’ll l lengthen your life if you get up and move, even a little, every 30 minutes.
Off the job
Work-life goals outside the office offer enrichment, insight and enjoyment. Do you read? Have a great-novels list? Every time you read a classic work of fiction or nonfiction, you find perspectives you won’t when following the same old work-dinner-TV-laptop-sleep routine. You can also go the DVD route.
What cause is close to your heart? Do you volunteer? Belong to a membership committee? Participate in any way that aids the group, furthers its cause and gives you personal satisfaction?
If it’s been a while since you participated in a cause or never have, try choosing one activity a month. Even if it meets just 12 times a year, you’ll most likely find deep satisfaction and a more well-rounded life. Think community-related, globally, charitable or civic. It’s your choice.
Family involvement means being immersed, not even noticing the time. It means being thoroughly consumed and enjoying every minute your time together. If it’s been a while, you have the opportunity right now to make family time one of your enduring goals.