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The Ultimate Guide to Work/Life Balance

· Article

The Ultimate Guide to Work/Life Balance

Janine Graziano-Full logged 80-hour weeks in her corporate executive job. But with a newborn and two-year-old at home, “I wasn’t happy with my work-life balance,” she says.

Her “aha” moment came in a coaching session, where she had to visualize her life in 20 years. That made her break down in tears.

“I felt like I’d missed my kids growing up,” she explains. “I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore,” she says of her job.

So she started her own business as an executive coach to help other women like herself. “I left my corporate job so you don’t have to,” she says.

In her new book, “Unapologetic Work Life Balance: A Corporate Warrior’s Guide to Creating the Life You Love at Work and Home,” she suggests turning the conversation to focus less on balance, and think of it more like work-life harmony or work-life integration.

“If you’re thinking about it as everyday 50% fun and 50% work, that’s not the right approach,” says Graziano-Full, who now has three kids. “It’s about flexibility.” Some days she’s all-in for work, other days, her phone is down (after dealing with her clients) and she’s all about her family.

You can achieve happiness at home and at work, provided you make the right adjustments.

Recognize the Problem

It may sound obvious, but you have to know there’s a problem.

“If you’re not aware, you can’t change,” Graziano-Full says.

She says some husbands want to hire her services for their wives, but it doesn’t work that way. Change doesn’t come from others knowing you have a problem.You have to be the one knowing it.

Sometimes your body signals that you’re flaming out.

“The body is the biggest trouble shooter,” she says. You might have gut pain, food issues or trouble sleeping. If you’re not sleeping at night — which many women tell her they aren’t with all their worries about work and home — it may be time to make a change.

Accept the Situation

Acceptance helps you assess the situation and where you are, and helps you see where you want to be.

“Acceptance is a bit of a forgiveness piece — you have to honor what’s happened in order to move forward,” she says.

She has her clients do “The Wheel of Life;” a tool where you can score how fulfilled you are with various aspects of your life, including work, family, health, marriage and friends.

“Usually, work is not the problem. They perform well, but they’re not good at self-care and their life is suffering,” she says. Her clients typically work more than 40 hours a week. They come home from the office, spend a few hours with the kids, then return to their computers to do more work.

After you do your wheel, you can see what your values are and what’s missing.

“Use your values to decide,” Graziano-Full says, noting that she values independence and her husband values structure — that’s why he stayed in the corporate world and she became a coach, which has a more flexible schedule. When you sit down and see what is lacking in your life — Do you need a date night with your partner? A more regular workout schedule? Better sleep habits? — then you can take action.

Take Action Now

Many people have a futuristic mindset. They say they’ll do what they want, like take a vacation, spend more time with family, or take up a hobby, when they get a bonus or promotion or get bought out or retire.

“They’re full of can’ts,” says Graziano-Full, “but you don’t ignore your current life for the future.”

The first part of action is often non action — saying you’re not going to do something, instead of taking on everything. Maybe you stop working during your hour-long train commute and knit or listen to music instead. Maybe you work out on your lunch break. Or work from home every Friday.

“Fill your soul instead of working,” Graziano-Full says.

Full says start slow and be flexible. Maybe one Friday there’s an office meeting or a lunch, and that one Friday you can’t work from home. Start incrementally creating boundaries and asserting your needs — because no one is going to do it for you.

“Sometimes people get stuck on auto-pilot, saying, ‘this is what I’ve always done’,” she says. Your colleagues may have gotten used to you doing things one way. Well, they can get used to another way, like holding a focused 40-minute meeting instead of a two-hour boardroom marathon.

“You are the client of your own awesomeness,” Graziano-Full says. “If you’re a doormat, no one wins. If you win, everyone wins.”

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