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In part 1 of this blog series, I described the indivisible parts of every person’s identity. I also discussed the importance of balance. Without balance, we can feel any number of negative emotions associated with stress and anxiety. Over time, we begin to make choices that are not true to our values because we just want the pain of feeling overworked to stop.

When we think of balance, we often think of two different settings: work and life. We want both settings to feel balanced, but it can be a challenge to identify the fine line between the two. The line is also different for everyone. It can be easy to say that 40 hours per week is the right amount to work, but each job and person will have different capacities.

When we reach our max capacity without realizing it, negative things start to happen. We quit jobs we love because we don’t know how to say “no” to our boss. We miss out on important family events because we don’t know how to stop checking emails or taking client phone calls. We develop anxiety that we are not doing enough anywhere and start to believe that we’re failing everyone. We become depressed because we do not see a solution to our struggles.

Determining What is “Enough”

Our lives go through seasons where our capacity for more work changes. For example, someone who has a lot of responsibilities in their personal life or people to care for may choose to take on fewer responsibilities at work. Another person may decide that it is important for their long-term goals to focus the majority of their efforts on their career. The important thing in both situations is that the person feels as if they are in control of their decision making process.

You know you are in control of the decision making process when your decisions are aligned with what is important to your season of life. You are aware of the time you have to commit to work. You know that any sacrifices you make are worth the cost. You feel valued for your efforts.

Taking Back Control

If you do not know where to start the decision making process, there are several things you can do to take back control.

  • Examine your values: Take the time to explore what is most important to you. Imagine your perfect day. What would you be doing? Who would you be with? How would you spend your time throughout the day? These questions will begin to give you a glimpse into what matters most.
  • Conduct a cost/benefit analysis: Sometimes it can be useful to assign a “cost” to the decisions you make. Is your hourly pay worth the amount of time you spent on that project? Are there priceless moments in your life that should always take precedence over work?
  • Ask your friends and family for help: How do the people around you think you should be spending your time? Do they wish they had more of your time? Do the people closest to you think they are at peace with your job and life responsibilities?

When you begin to ask questions about your work situation, you can feel empowered to say “yes” at work, without the guilt that you are saying “no” to the wrong thing. You can also begin accept the less than ideal aspects of your work, because you have a clearer picture of your work priorities.

If you feel unable to explore these questions in your own life, a therapist can help you decide where to start. If you want help navigating your own decision making process, call today!

Written by therapist Elise Champanhet

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