Live to Work - or Work to Live?

Written by Professional Academy Contracts Manager Jill Towner

There is a question about whether you ‘live to work – or work to live?’ But these seem to be extreme ends of a scale. It suggests that one behaviour occurs when someone is focussed on their work almost all of the time with little or no relaxation or home life. Or, the other hand, someone just goes into work to earn enough to support themselves, but they can’t wait to finish work and leave without a backwards look.

However, there is a middle way which allows you to commit to your work, enjoy it and get fulfilment from it AND have a satisfying and enjoyable life outside work.

There are many theories and models which explain what motivates people, and the important thing is to find out what motivates you – and to review this regularly in order to adjust your lifestyle to ensure you continue to get the right balance. The review stage is important as your circumstances change and your work: life balance will need to change with it.

At the start of your working life you may have a passion and drive which is satisfied by throwing yourself into your career. Long hours, extensive travel, or a stressful environment may be just what you need to create stimulation and enjoyment. Or at least you can cope with it. Move on a few years and a change in circumstances may mean you are happier with shorter hours, less stress and more time spent at home or pursuing a different lifestyle. Or maybe your financial situation changes and you feel you can take your foot off the accelerator.

Whatever your stage of life, consider what you want from work and life. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help explain your motivations and reaction to intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. He suggests that we have basic needs (food, water, warmth, rest), followed by psychological needs (safety and security; belonging and love; esteem – a feeling of accomplishment) and lastly ‘self-fulfilment’.  You need to consider what your individual aims are regarding psychological and self-fulfilment needs.

Your work: life balance choices are up to you and you are responsible for taking proper breaks and leaving your work behind you at the end of the day … or not. You may need to look for ways to work more efficiently, rather than longer, but by doing so, and keeping the balance right for you, you will be more productive, make fewer mistakes, and become healthier from eating and sleeping better. You will be happier, less stressed and you will become a better colleague, whether you are an employee or employer.

If you find you are slightly out of kilter, then spend some time reflecting on your expectations and career path. Try not to compare yourself to others – we are all different! Think about how to better manage your workload and remember, it is OK to say ‘no’. Make sure you take holiday time that is due, regular breaks throughout the day and develop your interests and hobbies outside work – so you have something to look forward to. If you do this, you will soon find that you love your new work: life balance and wonder why you didn’t sort it out sooner!

Working smarter and being able to set effective objectives and goals, is often a useful start to managing your time, along with understanding proven models and theories. Whether you work in Management, SalesMarketing or Digital Marketing, Professional Academy can provide you with training and development. Want to know more? Download a Prospectus today, or contact a Qualifications Advisor.