Some of the best advice I can give you, and something I wish I had known sooner, is how important it is to find a good work-life balance. I spent much of my early career hyper-focused on work, so much so I missed out on a lot of other important memories and milestones. I was not always present for the events in my daughter’s life when she was younger, and even when I was physically there, oftentimes my mind was still at work. I wish I had paid more attention and given myself that family time.
Throughout my career, I’ve learned your balance can change and shift depending on your current needs. When I first started working, I was young and single, and focusing on my career was the right move; I was able to make a good income and climb the corporate ladder. I spent time with my friends and parents, but my focus was work, and that was right for me. It may be right for you as well, so listen to yourself and what you personally need. Our goals and circumstances are often good indicators of where we need to place our focus, and what balance should look like in our lives.
For example, do you feel like you’re missing out on your children’s lives because of work? Maybe you need a change of pace. Are you single and in a new city? Maybe focusing on your career now will pay off later. Are you feeling burnt out at work? Take some time to explore something else you enjoy, whether that be hiking more often, signing up for an art class, traveling, or building more time into your daily routine for reading.
As I said, when I was young, it was good for me to focus on work. However, a few years later I met my husband, got married, and we had our daughter—I needed to change gears a bit. Work was and still is very important to me, but I had to make room for my family. Depending on your own personal goals and family life, you might also need to make room for your personal time.
If you spend every second focused on your job—for months, years, decades—you will burn out. No matter how much you love what you do, you can only do the same thing for so long—make sure always give yourself some freedom to pursue outside interests and do what brings you joy. As I got older, I noticed as my friends were getting married and having babies, and I was still in a relationship with my career, I no longer fit in with those friends. I would want to meet for drinks after work, and they all suddenly had curfews to get home to tuck their kids in or have dinner with their family. It was me, myself, and I.
Don’t let yourself get to that point. I’m not saying you have to have a family, but find something that fulfills you, like a book club, a fitness routine, or some sort of hobby where you can make friends and spend some time out of the office. Your mental health will thank you in the long run.
Finding a balance in your life is so important for maintaining relationships with not only partners, but also friends and family. It keeps you sane, happy, and healthy, and will make you a better employee. If you let yourself burn out, you won’t be putting forth your best effort, so create for yourself a happy medium.