How setting boundaries helped me find balance
I came to a big realisation in 2018: I had terrible work-life balance.
The pressures of recruitment – especially in my earlier years when I was very ambitious – made me feel like I had to make a choice in prioritising my work over my personal life. After a great deal of reflection, I realised work had become the leading driver of my life – likely to the detriment of other things. Year-on-year, there is a growing body of research that proves that work-life balance in the UK is poor – and almost half of respondents to a survey by Forbes would take a pay cut to address it.
When Resource Solutions introduced the concept of Smart Working – a fundamental culture shift designed to allow our employees to take control and ownership of their working hours – it made me take pause. With Smart Working, we get to use our time in a smarter way, recognising and planning what our priorities are, both at work and outside of it. I started looking at what I was doing and decided that I needed to find better work-life balance.
Not everyone is as lucky to have a company that supports flexible working styles. But having a work-life balance starts with a conversation. And that conversation has to manifest into action:
- Set your boundaries and stand strong
I’ve been setting clearer boundaries by telling people what I can and cannot do. It’s taken a lot of time, but I’m finally feeling more comfortable setting hard lines around things in my personal life that I need to take care of. I don’t feel bad about it anymore – I now know that when I’m looking after my personal life, I’m also looking after my work life. That means you’ll need to define when you’re available for work-related conversations, what your off-hours are, and when the rulebook can be thrown out ‘in case of emergencies’.
- Let people know what you want
Now that you’ve set your boundaries – don’t assume anything from anyone. You’ll want to let your peers – at all levels – know what your aspirations are and how you’d like to set out and realise them. Be confident, self-aware and recognise the steps you’ll need to take to develop and earn the trust and respect of your colleagues. You’ll need to show 100% commitment, especially if your hiring manager or organisation is new to the idea of a flexible working style.
- Raise your hand when you can
Just because you want your personal life to take as much precedence as your work life doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive. If you’re able to take on more responsibility without it hurting your personal life or your current work load, then take the opportunity. Often those are the gestures that give you recognition and raise your profile, allowing you to more effectively navigate the business.
- Work for those who care
You’ll discover that not everyone shares your enthusiasm for work-life balance. Identify someone in your company who can help you navigate the business, narrow in on your professional development, and ask them to help plot some goals for you to work towards. If your organisation and hiring manager is resistant to the idea, then it might be time to start exploring your options elsewhere.
Organisations should be recognising that people have diverse working styles. You’d think it’d be universal that people can come to expect that there’s more to life than work – but you’d be surprised!
When Resource Solutions implemented Smart Working, we immediately saw the impact it had on our employees. Now, we’re giving people more control over their work and allowing them the opportunity to take care of themselves.