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Setting Work-Life Boundaries That Stick!

September 26, 2016

One of the greatest challenges I see for the people I work with as an Executive and Career Coach is wanting to work in a fulfilling high-level career while still enjoying quality time with family and friends. This issue is often referred to as work-life balance, but the idea of perfect balance is rarely true. What I want clients to build for themselves is career-life integration, where components of their lives are managed in a way of their planning based on given priorities at the time.

I am going to walk you through a great exercise to help you with your priority setting. Take out a piece of paper and pen. Write down your top 4 or 5 non-negotiables. For me, it is – #1 Spending time with my family and helping support them the best I can #2 Taking time for myself to practice daily meditation and exercise #3 My work – I feel completely energized by helping others be their best in their careers and in their lives outside of work #4 Fun – This includes time with friends or doing some fun activity by myself or with family.

Now get specific. What is it about each of those priorities that is important to you. For instance, for my family piece, it is important to us that we go out for a nice dinner as a family once a week, including going for a yummy kid-friendly dessert somewhere after. Also, it is important to my husband and I that we are outside with our children 3-5 times a week doing something active, such as biking, walking, running at the park or playing with neighbours on the street.

Complete this exercise for each of your above priorities. The more specific and measurable you can be, the more successful you will be in setting priorities and establishing boundaries.

Now, build these priorities into your online work calendar. Use this calendar for your evening and weekend commitments, too. Mark them in a way so others do not see what you are doing. Your downtime belongs to you. Think of blocking off this time as making appointments with your family and yourself.

By completing this exercise, you have just established your boundaries. So, how do you stick to them? Well, first off having them in your calendar shows others you are already booked. It also reminds you of your family and personal time.

The second point to making boundaries stick is about modeling your priorities. This means not sneaking out of the office when it is time to go home, but just leaving and saying good-bye to those along the way. You don’t owe everyone an explanation on the way out if you are heading to the gym at lunch or leaving work on time in the evening, just leave. Place family pictures on your desk to remind you of your family if you are tempted to keep staying late and missing dinner with them, if that is one of your priorities.

The more you can model a leader who is doing a great job while still enjoying life, the more you will show others it can be done. These behaviours have the power to change the culture to be a more productive one where people are motivated not by fear and face time, but by results and quality of life.  You are in control of your life and time. Make sure you use it in a way of your choosing.

Visit Potential Unlimited’s website to find out more about the coaching program that is right for you!

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