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What's Missing From the Conversation About Work-Life Balance

Achieving a work-life balance starts with you.

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You’ve received the standard advice about setting boundaries with the hours you work if you’re now (or have always) worked from home. You’ve read that you should focus on tasks more intentionally by using software that blocks and email notifications. You may have even experienced work-life balance for a while.

However, what’s missing from the conversation about work-life balance is the need for self-prioritization in , work, and the desire to optimize one’s life. Here are three reasons why making yourself a priority is the key and foundation to achieving work-life balance. 

Related: The Secret Cause of Burnout and How Entrepreneurs Can Avoid It

1. Burnout stems from a lack of excitement for what you’re pursuing. 

Do you wake up, look at your to-do list and verbally cringe? Chances are, most of what you do each day is the same, and the routine is draining you mentally, and by extension, physically.

When you spend day in and day out grinding with no time allotted for fun and all the personal goals you’d like to accomplish — it leads to frustration, bitterness and burnout. You aren’t excited to work, which diminishes your energy and . The resulting burnout decreases productivity and amplifies excuses. 

Work-life balance has to be about balance. But more than figuring out a schedule that works for you, you’ll need to incorporate plenty of "you time." Your schedule should include moments when you work on hobbies, do fun things and focus on personal optimization.

If you’re feeling stressed and mentally exhausted when you think about work and your goals, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself when was the last time you did something just for you? You’ll be more productive and develop the ability to work more intentionally when your life doesn’t feel like a burden. 

Related: Building a Business Shouldn't Require You Stop Having a Life

2. The “work” part of work-life balance can’t overtake your identity.

When you’re good at what you do, it can be easy to let that become part of your identity. It’s not uncommon for someone who’s been the “boss” at a job or business to have readjustment challenges to changes in their work situation — millions of Americans experienced just that over the past year. 

If you tie your identity to your work, you’ll lose balance when life circumstances become unpredictable. Work-life balance starts with you being secure in your non-work priorities and unattachment to circumstances you can’t control. 

There are so many experiences of life and moments to be lived beyond work. Work helps you build the financial freedom to experience life, but don’t let it overtake the balance and tie your beliefs about yourself to circumstances that don’t have to define you. 

3. You’ll get more done when you work from a place of being complete. 

Whether you realize it or not, you are the most significant project you will ever pursue. When you make your optimization a priority, you will be more productive. When you’re excited about life and the opportunity to work, you’ll reduce stress and burnout. 

Start with making yourself the priority. Family, friends, coworkers, clients, and anyone else that demands your time and energy should see and respect your boundaries.

Spend time each day with one task, goal or fun experience that’s just for you. If you can do that at the start of your day, you’ll train your mind to understand that you’re the main priority. Do this over time, and you’ll wake up excited for what the day will hold. 

As you build the self-prioritization muscle and develop healthy self-care habits, you’ll achieve a work-life balance more sustainably.

Related: Teach Others How to Treat Your Business

Tim Madden

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Tim Madden is a veteran headhunter that has led teams that have placed over 6,000 professionals. He has worked at the largest recruitment firm in the world, responsible for over 50 million dollars of placements of executives. He's a nationally recognized recruiter and has served in the US Army.