If you're feeling divided by demands from your career and personal life, you're not alone. Establishing work and life balance is something most of us have struggled with at one time or another. It's difficult, whether you're single without kids, married with a new child, a single parent—or your personal life is a different configuration.
I don't have the perfect formula for the life-work balancing act; it's an ongoing goal for all of us. But I've developed solutions that have helped me maintain a grasp on that balance. I hope these ideas will add up to a healthier life for you, too.
Before I had kids, I felt those of us without children were sometimes forgotten at some practices. We were often the ones working the late nights and weekends and getting asked to take on extra projects. So never assume colleagues without children have more free time or less desire to enjoy their evenings, weekends and holidays.
And as a working adult, it's important to factor in time to take care of yourself. Sure, without kids it's possible you may have more flexibility about when you can catch up on sleep—and you can allow yourself to become more worn out, thinking it will only affect you. But this is terribly unhealthy. People who take work home with them inevitably don't relax or get quality sleep. What happens when you're fatigued? Your work suffers, and your health declines. So all this time you may have spent trying to improve your career may ultimately damage it when you start coming in to work exhausted and burnt out.
Aside from negative effects on your career, you miss out on what's most important—time with loved ones. No matter how much you may think you love your job, remember what my wise mother once told me: "When you die, no one is going to care what you did at work and how many hours you put in ... but your impact on those around you and your loved ones will create a legacy." This always scared me, but these words are powerful and ring true. So you take every extra ER shift they ask for, and you constantly perform extra duties outside of work; when you are 60 you may look back at the time when you had more energy and could physically do more and wish you had spent it otherwise.
Perhaps a family addition just turned your life upside down. Now every moment outside of work is spent being a caretaker or prepping for the next day. You're also a working adult, and you may be a spouse. Or if you're raising children as a single parent, you may be stretched a bit thinner then most. So it's critical to plot ideas to keep you healthy so you can offer support to those who rely on you.
Finally, whether your situation matches these scenarios or you're balancing other forces, remember you can create a balance. It takes effort and practice. Once you find the right equation, you'll feel happier, healthier and less stressed.
Oriana D. Scislowicz, BS, LVT, VDT, is a technician in Richmond, Va.