Four Problems With Your Life and Work Fit

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What are the primary concerns on employees’ minds when it comes to work? A recent study by Mercer US asked 4,000 US-based workers about their topmost needs in the workplace. In addition, the report compares the results of the 2022 list to those on the 2021 list.

The needs vary from year to year, for example:

  • covering monthly expenses was #9 in 2021 but topped the list at #1 in 2022
  • personal relationships appeared in 2021 but didn’t make the list in 2022
  • personal debt didn’t appear in 2021 but was listed in 2022

But despite the variety from year to year, one need ranked in the top three concerns in both years: workload/life balance.

I think of workload/life balance as the interplay between your work life and your personal life. It’s how both parts interact with each other, how both are arranged. You can try to keep them separate, but you will find that one invariably impacts the other. What you do at work echoes at home; what happens at home comes into the workplace.

As I shared in a blog post, the relationship between life and work was on my mind as our family moved to a new town. As we got settled, I questioned whether the plan I had made—to work for myself–was really what I wanted to do. At first, I thought that it was purely a work decision, but with some great coaching, I realized it was really a consideration about how my work and life fit together.

The crux of the matter was this: How did I want to arrange my life and work?

I decided to stick with my own business, so I stopped seeking to be hired. I made some adjustments to my life and work fit, and now I’m thrilled with it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. But I wouldn’t have gotten there without some investigation and effort.

So let me ask you this:

  • How is your work and life fit?
  • Is your relationship between life and work going well for you?
  • Is it a place of energy and peace, or is it draining and stressful?

If your work and life fit leans toward the latter, I encourage you to understand why. Here are four problems you may be facing with your life and work arrangement.

1. Unrealistic Expectations for Work

You’re expecting your job to meet all of your needs, and you’re ignoring how your personal life could meet some of them. I missed being part of a team and thought only being employed and working with others could fill that need. But instead of working for someone else, I enhanced my role on a volunteer team, and that did the trick for me.

2. Deficient Understanding of Yourself

You haven’t taken the time to learn about yourself, so you don’t know what your personality traits, motivational drivers, or core values may be telling you. You’re trying to find identity from the work you do rather than working from your identity. When I remembered that one of my core values is independence, I thought of ways to honor that value in my work, which led me to rent a private office at a coworking space to work outside my home. I like the options of being around others and having my own space.

3. Incomplete Perspective on Passion

You expect work to be full of passion and ease. On days that are not, you wonder if you’re in the wrong job. But work that has some measure of struggle and suffering tends to be more fulfilling than work that does not. The historical view of “passion” was about enduring through suffering because the outcome was worth the pain. But today, we don’t expect to suffer for our passion. For me, starting over in a new town means selling my services to strangers—something I don’t love to do. But realizing this is part of working for myself, I enrolled in sales training to sharpen my sales skills.

4. Unclear Work Mindset

You haven’t figured out why you’re working. Research says that all workers think of their work primarily in one of three ways—as a job, career, or calling. Those in the "job" category are doing work mainly for extrinsic benefits like pay or benefits in order to support their life outside of work. Those in the “career” category are working principally to advance and gain status. Those in the “calling” category work chiefly for internal benefits like personal fulfillment and purpose. I’m not sure how I think of my work right now, but I know in the past when I settled my work mindset, it helped me to feel motivated.

I hope as you’ve read the information in this blog post, it will help you make decisions to move you into a work and life fit that is better for you—one that brings balance and peace into your life. Helping you align your life and work so you can live without regrets, make meaningful impact, and have consistent joy is our focus this year, so look for upcoming resources.

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