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Integrating Work and Life: How to Manage Expectations

Now that the rush of the holiday season is behind us, it is time to get back into a routine that promotes health and happiness. Too often the demands of our lives are overwhelming, and we find ourselves struggling with trying to manage the multitude of responsibilities in our lives. We find that sometimes we must sacrifice one area of our life in order to accommodate another. Many of us are both income earners and parents and this is where it gets tricky. We may wonder if it is it even possible to create a balance between the two.

In counselling, we frequently talk to clients about work-life balance/ work-life integration. In reality it is difficult if not impossible to separate the two, but we need to be able to find some sense of harmony in our life roles in order to remain psychologically healthy and productive. So we are often asked about strategies to integrate work and life.  We have learned that the strategies available are only as effective as an individual’s commitment to take control over his life and determine what is or isn’t a priority.  The following are several steps that research describes as essential for integrating work and life.

1) Define a Clear Sense of What You Want in Your Life

  Create a vision for your life. A clear vision helps create positive lasting change.

2) Be Clear on What Your Values Are

Clarifying your values and checking in to see if your values are helping or hindering you in achieving want you want out of life.

3) Be Cognizant of What You Really Have Control Over

In reality the only thing we have control over is ourselves and everything outside of ourselves is out of our control. We can try to influence things outside of ourselves, but at the end of the day, we are not in control of the outcome. For example, I can choose how I want to think or what activities I may need to engage in to maintain harmony between work and life, but I cannot control my employer, my family members, or even the weather. So let go of trying to control things outside of yourself and use that energy to make some good choices and follow through with the activities needed to be successful.

4) Get Your Life and World in Order

Do you need to get organized? Is your world chaotic? If so, take the time necessary to take stock and make some changes. For many people organization is not easy, so it’s okay to ask a family member, friend or professional to help you.

5) Feel Good About Setting Healthy Boundaries and Stick to Them

Often people are so afraid of making someone mad or wanting their approval that they agree to taking on extra tasks in spite of the fact that they do not have the capacity to achieve them. Therefore, before you say yes to another role or responsibility, ask yourself the following question: “If by agreeing to take on this added responsibility is this responsibility going to a) help me b) harm me or c) merely enable the other person. If you answer “yes to b or c your must say, “I’m sorry that does not work for me.” Do not fall into the trap of offering excuses because the person who is asking you to take on the added responsibility has his own agenda and will go to great lengths to get you to say yes.

6) Take the Time to Set up Your Own Support System of People Who Will Respect your Boundaries

At the end of the day the decision to make you a priority is one that only you can make.  At Aspire Too we encourage you to choose you today. The benefits of this choice will be evident in your life and your work!! If you feel that you are unable to make this choice, do not hesitate to call us to assist you in achieving successful integration.

Connie Lupichuk, MSW, RSW, CLC
Clinical Social Worker/Counsellor
Aspire Too