Can We Have Work-Life Balance in the US or Should I Move?

I am always intrigued when news articles pop up on my web browser with titles, such as “Which Countries Have the Best Work-Life Balance?” Let’s face it, Americans have a bad track record when it comes to work-life balance, making us plummet to the bottom of these rankings. On average, Americans work more hours in a week than our international peers with large economies. That’s insane! America is no Rome, yet it certainly wasn’t built in a day either. Those long hours we put in each day are part of the reason our country has become successful. However, most of us don’t want our computer or work boots to be the only ones at our funeral. We want a life filled with family, friends, laughter, and all those qualities outside of work that make us feel fulfilled and complete.

Though I find it tempting to move to one of those top ranked countries and live in one of Copenhagen’s colorful homes along the canal in the Nyhavn district, it’s just not practical for me to do that right now. So how do we balance our busy American lifestyles? Forbes has 6 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance:

1. Let go of perfectionism.

2. Unplug.

3. Exercise and meditate.

4. Limit time-wasting activities and people.

5. Change the structure of your life.

6. Start small. Build from there.

To me, what sticks out most in these steps is the focus on the concept of just relaxing. Everyone needs to breathe. We can’t live without our own breath and often it is one of the simplest things we forget. I can’t tell you how often I find myself holding my breath while I’m busy running to-do lists in my head. We’ve created a culture around being on-the-go at all times which includes work, clubs, committees, school, sports, children, spouses, etc. Forbes’s article concentrates on learning to cut-back in life so you can focus on those elements on your list that are truly important to you and prioritize them.

Though finding work-life balance requires conscious dedication and restructuring of habits, the largest requirement is cutting all the excess in our life that is making our minds wander or hyper-focus on things like work. Try your best to stay focused on the tasks you need to get done each day both at your job and in your personal life. When you are working on those tasks, don’t wander, be present. This will allow you to have more time for self-care each day. Carving out time daily for you to walk away from things, like your phone (where you don’t have one eye on emails at all time and the constant ding distracting you), could open up a world of possibilities for your head to be cleared.

I personally am going to try to eliminate more of the frivolous things in life that clutter my head and worry less about trying to be perfect in each task. Forbes’s article also points out to take each step one bite at a time and start off slow in creating these new goals. Phew! If that doesn’t go well, I can always daydream about my move to Copenhagen…


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