January is almost over, things have settled back into their everyday routine and I have already forgotten most of my New Year’s resolutions. I am quite sure many of you feel much the same way. I was so determined not to get too stressed anymore and to better prioritise things. But, as often happens when you have too many ambitious plans, you lose sight of the big picture. That’s why I created a list with my personal top five tips.
The quest for perfection is omnipresent. On the one hand, we strive to be perfect in everything we do. On the other hand, we tend to compare ourselves with others who, in our eyes, do things better than we do. This comparison, however, is not always fair and reasonable as we tend to compare ourselves with those who enjoy a more successful career, have the most beautifully furnished house or are bursting with energy, etc. Instead, we should focus on our own strengths and accept our weaknesses.
Reconciliation of work and family is a lot easier if we can draw on a good network. It is a big help and great relief to have people around you on whose support you can rely, even at short notice (for example grandparents or other relatives). But having family close by is no longer something that can be taken for granted. It’s a luxury that only few people nowadays have. The good thing, however, is that everyone can build up a social network outside their family: neighbours, parents of kindergarten/school friends, babysitters, nannies, ‘hired’ grandmas and grandpas. Helping each other in emergencies is not only an affordable alternative, it also creates a basis for friendship and solidarity in our immediate vicinity.
In my opinion, these two capabilities are imperative when managing any task or project. They are not only crucial in a job but also in private life. You are doomed to fail if you want to do it all alone. Division of labour within the family reduces the burden of the individual and enables all family members to master new challenges.
Sheryl Sandberg states in her book that only women and mothers who have the right husband can be successful. One person alone cannot master the many duties of both job and family. Something always gets left behind – be it your career, your children, your marriage or your health. I personally have had good experiences with splitting domestic tasks among all family members, including our kids. Every child chooses one of the weekly household chores which they take over for a while, e.g. taking out the garbage, emptying the dishwasher, fetching fresh bread rolls or cooking lunch during school holidays. It not only makes life easier for parents. The children are also full of pride when they manage their chores independently. Setting priorities is very helpful, too. If you already have a very busy job, your leisure time shouldn’t be too stressful. Who cares if the next birthday party is only a small celebration, if the walls aren’t freshly painted, if the basement isn’t cleared out or if the laundry isn’t ironed straightaway?
This is probably the most difficult task: recognising, setting and enforcing your own limits. The situation is all too familiar: While we are already struggling to handle the ever increasing number of tasks, we’re assigned another new project. Lots of colleagues and friends of mine have been experiencing similar situations. You manage for a time but at some point the pressure gets too much and your balance suffers.
This will directly affect your health and family life. As soon as you have realised this, it is important to take relief measures. What can I change immediately? Is this stress temporary or permanent? If it is temporary (e.g. during the peak phase of a project), your social network and/or your family will help you master this challenging phase. If you are under permanent stress, you have to talk to your line manager. Priorities need to be re-defined. Of course, it won’t be an easy conversation, but steadfastness will pay off in the long run.
Every one of us has different talents, different priorities in life and different energy levels as well as a varying degree of socialisation. Some of us prefer working full-time, some of us choose to look after the children. Some of us feel that working part-time is ideal in order to both enhance our career and spend valuable time with our children. And some prefer not to work at all and be a full-time parent. The pressure of our social environment is high, no matter which model we choose. Depending on our talents, strengths and energy levels, we have to find our own path that promotes our strengths and considers our personal level of energy and health.
There is not ONE right path. Every path is different and we may change our path from time to time.
Katrin Hempel, adidas Group Work-Life integration
Babies and young children have different needs to older kids, sick family members’ needs are not the same as when they are healthy. Different hobbies and passions require a different amount of time. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that we are content with our own life. And this is something that each and every one of us has to decide for him- or herself.
You should, however, not forget to ‘switch off’ from time to time – both physically and mentally: switch off your mobile phone and laptop and relax. Only if you regularly take some time out you will remain productive and motivated. For a good work-life balance you need to take responsibility for yourself and your health.
The list of tips could be continued infinitely.
What points would you add?