The Importance of Finding Work-Life Balance

Austin Keith, EIT

Austin Keith, EIT

Once you graduate, you will begin to see the responsibilities of this new chapter in your life piling up. On the one hand, you are starting your career and learning to work among professionals. On the other, you are learning to navigate between leisure activities and the obligations of being on your own. It can become difficult and overwhelming to juggle between producing high-quality work and building a life for yourself.

With the changing of the times and the surge of technology, the ability to be connected and work 24/7 is easier than ever. The average working American now can take work home with them and remotely work wherever. It is easy to get lost in a cycle of spending all of your time working and letting your personal life fall behind. This can lead to increased stress, burnout at work, fatigue, poor health, and lost time with friends and loved ones. However, properly maintaining a good work-life balance can reverse these effects. It can help lower your stress, increase your sense of -being, improve your physical and mental health, boost your productivity, and increase your life quality and work performance.

According to Business News Daily, “work-life balance is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life.” Learning the optimal balance can be extremely difficult. In fact, 66% of workers feel they do not have a work-life balance in their lives. This doesn’t have to be you, but you must decide to find a balance that works for you. Some steps that you can use to find equilibrium in your life are:

• Prioritizing your health and wellness
• Unplugging from technology from time to time
• Taking short breaks during extended working hours
• Finding work that you enjoy doing
• Setting boundaries during off-workhours
• Making time for friends and family
• Picking up hobbies you enjoy
• Engage in employer-sponsored activities outside of the workplace

These steps will help improve mental health and find balance by focusing largely on time prioritization and finding healthy outlets for stress. While implementing these steps can seem like a daunting task, you may find it easier to start with one and add more as you feel more comfortable. Even just one change can make a noticeable difference. You will also find there are many additional options out there and resources available for you. Ultimately, the goal is to use what is best for you and continuously adapt as needed.

When I first graduated from college, I struggled to prioritize my personal life. I was working for a firm where 60-80 hour work weeks were normalized, and you were required to work Saturdays and most Sundays. During that time, I missed birthdays, weddings, holidays, and countless hours with friends and family. I could not maintain a workout schedule that allowed personal time to pursue my hobbies and outside interests. Despite my attempts to assure myself that everything was alright, deep down, I knew that schedule and workload were detrimental to my physical and mental health. I felt like I was on the outside looking in as my friends and family built their lives and their careers. I knew I needed to make a change for myself, so I completed my education and found a firm and working environment that supported me and allowed me to be the best that I could be, professionally and personally.

Since making this switch, I have established a balance that works well for me. The first thing that I focused on was maintaining a well-balanced diet and workout regime—having a positive outlook on my health and staying conscious of the food that I put into my body has gone a long way into how I feel and my daily outlook on life. Next, I picked up an old hobby that I enjoyed. This allowed me to get outside a couple of times a week and meet many new people who are now great friends. Last, I have also spent more time with friends and family by proactively setting boundaries around my work schedule and working for a firm that values a healthy work-life balance. This allows me to build relationships and gain new experiences while also allowing me to complete my work on schedule. These few changes alone have made a significant impact on my life.

Learning this balance will be an ever-changing but rewarding conquest, which will alleviate stress and improve your mental health. Whether you’re a recent graduate or someone looking to make a career change, as you cross this bridge, remember to put your well-being first and enjoy the journey of balancing a successful career and fulfillment in your life.

Austin Keith, EIT

Topics: General Interest , Young Engineers Series

Written by Austin Keith, EIT