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The key to life is balance, but challenges with work values that conflict with personal priorities have become very common. Of course, work values and norms vary greatly across countries and cultures, but many people, at different times in their lives, experience challenges with work values that conflict with their personal priorities.
If the key to life is balance, then ideally, you'll feel that your life is comprised of a mixture of time for:
Individual people value these aspects of their lives in different ways, so the way you would ideally choose to divide your time, is unique to you. However, the one issue that is common with so many people is that time spent at work can quickly overshadow and squeeze out time for focusing on other priorities.
Achieving work life balance is something that many people struggle with, and it's not a concept that is a concern for working parents only. In fact, in 2003, the Graduate Career Survey indicated that graduates value flexibility over pay when it comes to assessing potential job opportunities and employers. (Employers for Work-Life Balance)
The Key to Life is Balance: Addressing Challenges with Work Values
There are a few ways that employers and individuals are choosing to address challenges with work values and personal priorities. One (or more) of these options might help you to build work-life balance into your career and your personal life.
Simple Living (also called voluntary simplicity)
Simple living is a lifestyle choice. People make conscious decisions to minimize spending and the pursuit of wealth. If it's a good fit with your own values, down-shifting and choosing voluntary simplicity can have benefits that include: improved health, reduced stress, improved work-life balance and environmental conservation.
Flextime (also called Flexitime or Flexi-time)
More employers are recognizing the benefits of providing a flextime option for their staff. Flextime involves varying the work schedule outside of the standard 9 to 5 day. Having the freedom to shift work hours even a little bit can make a bit difference in your ability to drop off and pick up kids at school, find time to get to the gym, or spend more time with the important people in your life.
Part Time Work
Some people choose part time work or job sharing options in order to continue to work while still having the opportunity to pursue other interests. Different forms of part time work can be an ideal solution for many people who are not prepared to leave the workforce, but are also not ready or able to work full time. Unfortunately, the types of available part time jobs tend to be limited. It can be challenging (but not impossible) for people to find meaningful part time work that both pays well and is challenging and rewarding.
Teleworking or working at home (WAH), can provide individuals with the ability to continue to work and maintain a career while having the flexibility to work from home all or some of the time. Working at home also eliminates time and money wasted (and energy consumed) in a daily commute. Some companies provide this option for staff for part of, or even all of the work week. Other individuals who want this flexibility, but cannot find it with a traditional employer launch their own home businesses, in part to build WAH freedom and balance into their lives.
If you believe that the key to life is balance, then addressing any challenges with work values, particularly the ways in which they impact other personal priorities can make a huge difference in your job satisfaction and the way you experience other aspects of your life. It can take some planning, negotiation and even sacrifices to find a work-life balance that fits your needs, but the rewards will be well worth the time spent.