I don’t believe in all that astrology mumbo-jumbo.

But maybe that’s because I’m a Libra.

Do you recall the symbol for Libra? It’s not the bull. Nor that half-human, half-horse thing.

It’s the scales. You know, the symbol that conveys the principle of symmetry and balance?

Well, I’m not exactly the poster child for it.

Throughout my career I have repeatedly exhibited a complete and total lack of work-life balance.

Those scales we always see so perfectly balanced?

Those aren’t mine.  Mine look more like this:

So when I discovered that the exciting opportunity I applied for via a blind ad last January was with a company that guarantees their clients an unfair advantage in the game of life through work-life balance,  I could appreciate the irony.

And while I haven’t yet achieved mastery in the arena of work-life balance – hey, it’s only been 6 weeks! – I’m beginning to see how my prior habits contributed to my lack of job satisfaction in the past.

Here are a few things I shall avoid in the future:

  1. Building my identity around my job. This habit stinks for two reasons. First, when things are potentially stressful at work, I’d carry it with me everywhere. Friends quickly discovered not to ask how things were going at work, because I would tell them. A prior boss once told me, “You need a thing outside of work. Get a thing or you’ll drive yourself crazy.” He was right!  The second reason?  When work suddenly went away, I floundered more than I expected. I was my job. Without it, all I could think was, “Now what?”
  2. Considering pleasing others to always be more important than pleasing myself. And under this category is my natural aversion to the word “no.” Seems that the mere fact that someone has requested that Project XYZ be complete in just 4 days makes me automatically presume that it’s possible to complete it in that time frame. At a prior job I often admired my older, wiser teammate who would say, “I don’t think we can do that, but let’s look at what we can do.”
  3. Creating unreasonable to-do lists. I recall a prior manager of mine looking over my shoulder at my to-do list for the day. “That’s for today?!” he exclaimed. “No wonder you’re not feeling effective – it would take anyone a week to accomplish that list!” He advised me to shrink my list to no more than 3 major items per day. And I did it. For about a week. Then I went back to my old ways. Because, hey, there was so much to do!

Awareness of these habits is the start of my transformation here at Balanced WorkLife. Don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted on the next steps.

Meanwhile, do you have any habits that sabotage your work-life balance? Have you overcome any of them?

Images courtesy of ClexowHans Splinter.

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20 thoughts on “3 Ugly Habits That Destroy Work-Life Balance

  1. Wynona

    Lol. When I saw the photo of books on a scale.. I laughed! :D Best of luck to you in the future! :)

  2. It made me laugh, too, Wynona! I felt lucky to find that image – it was perfect. Thanks for your comments.

  3. I loved the points you made here, Michelle, and I admit I have done all 3 in the past and learned these habits don’t help me live a happy, balanced and productive life!

    I especially loved your point about believing it’s possible to accomplish a task within a deadline just because someone told you to do it- I know from experience all tasks are not possible just because someone assigned it to you.

    Whenever I’ve taken on more than I can reasonably handle I rarely impress people with my awesome skills. It’s far more likely I don’t accomplish the taks, or worse yet, I do accompish the task but I sacrifice my well-being in the process and become irritable and unreasonable in the process. This is not how I want to live my life!

    Have a grateful day!


  4. Thanks for your kind comments, Chrysta. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who accepts the impossible deadline merely because it’s asked of her!

  5. Overcoming – a beautiful word Micelle,

    I love living my life of equanimity – that balance – the calm.

    Not always that way though my friend – I once was so out of balance – the great news is that it didn’t feel good and I now am at a place of balance – sometimes I play to much and work too little – but that’s okay too because that “to do” list gets done.

    In gratitude to your words of wisdom,

  6. Hi Michelle,

    I like your writing style! I also LOL’ed at the books picture :)

    The advice about having a ‘thing’ outside of work? Absolutely spot on. When you have a particularly consuming hobby, are part of some sports league or challenge, or have taken up learning a new language or musical instrument … this ‘thing’ pushes the day job back into its rightful place, and helps you stop colouring outside the lines.

    Great post!


  7. Hello Michelle, great post here! I believe that we can have balance when we have faith and when we are grateful! There is nothing more in this world we can do. Whatever your belief system is, this is what you become! Thanks for sharing with us!
    John Mak

  8. Looks like these to do lists are a continuing message I am getting this week. I make too many to do lists and just work around them. I am constantly told that I need to stop doing that. The problem is that unless and until I strike everything off I fail to breathe properly!

    But yes, I am a list addict! I need to stop making my life revolving around lists!

  9. Samantha

    Life is filled with so many things to conquer and things you find joy in, Depression is and excuse to feel sad for yourself. Get up and find something else that entice you and go for it.

  10. Great article Michelle. Like many of the other commenters…I LOVED the photo. I think that the one question one has to ask and honestly answer is “what do I want my life to look like”.

    After going through the “no time for myself” phase and a spot of depression once I was clear on what I wanted my life to look like and began taking steps towards that, the to do lists became realistic and easier to write, I didn’t make it all about business and wasn’t worried about who liked it or not.

  11. Lanaya

    In regards to failures I think sometimes when we fail at something we question why things turned out the way they did. I know from my personal experience that I have had failures where I felt very deflated and wondered what the heck, but now looking back, I can see that many times the outcome that I wanted just wasn’t meant to be.

  12. Thanks for your kind words, Nancy! Glad to hear you are currently in that elusive balance.

  13. Glad to see you on our blog, Dee. Yes, that “thing” is oh so valuable. My personal danger zone is when I make another area of responsibility into my “thing” (like a home remodel) instead of choosing something that nourishes me. Oh, the tricks we play on ourselves! Thanks for your comment.

  14. Good point, John. Gratitude *is* key…this (hectic) morning I made a conscious effort to be thankful the painter showed up as promised, on time. It made all the difference!

  15. Hajra, you made me laugh! I am a list maker, too, and those incessant lists used to “own” me. But now I write the lists to clear my mind, and then the non-deadline stuff gets done as *I* choose, bit by bit. Once I accepted it won’t all get done today (or even this week), I felt lighter. Good luck!

  16. Welcome, Golda! I love to hear from folks who are living more purposefully and reaping the benefits. Thanks for your comment.

  17. Three things per list per day, eh? Hmm…this could be a challenge!

    (Memo to self: Tomorrow, reduce “To Do” list by about 83%!)

  18. Hi Carroll! I know, it’s challenging! Of course, my boss’ 3 things were items like: 1) establish engineering team to support international product launch 2) assign lead to create 5 volume documentation manuals 3) complete review input for 27 employees. So it was still a full day for him. ;) Thanks for stopping by our blog!

  19. nicole@muranoplace

    thanks for shearing this….it was nice..
    great job..

  20. Queenie20

    The photo of books on a scale was funny. Wish some luck to the future.. lol.

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