Some people may be painfully aware that their work-life balance is less than ideal, and feel they are suffering as a result, whilst others may feel they have it sussed by now, and are reaping the benefits of prioritised time to spend with the people important to them, and doing the things they love.
Perhaps you’ve never stopped to think about your level of work-life balance, and maybe that’s because it’s already good and therefore not an issue, or maybe it’s because you’re so busy that you haven’t had time to prioritise yourself even in your own thoughts!
Reflection can be a powerful tool, and a useful way of assessing where we’re at, what we can do, and where we might want to be. As a new veterinary graduate in the UK several years ago, my year was one of the first to have to complete the online RCVS Professional Development Phase (PDP) record upon qualifying, where we could log our newly developed clinical skills. Reflection was an actively encouraged component of the record, so we could solidify our new skills and successes, and learn from any mistakes or things that didn’t go quite to plan. This, along with working with colleagues and bosses who would talk things through with you, good and bad, helped to shape me into a reflective clinician. The time spent on my yoga mat and in meditation has also, for me personally, allowed me to explore and deepen my reflective side both professionally, and in my personal life.
If you haven’t thought about it, or maybe just want to check in, I encourage you to take the VetYogi Work-Life Balance quiz, and see where you’re at…
1). Do you have hobbies/interests/a social/family life outside of work?
A: Not at all and I wish I did
B: Not really but it doesn’t affect me
C: Usually I have other things going on
D: Yes and I will prioritise them along with work
2). Do you consider yourself to have enough time to pursue a social/family life, and interests/hobbies outside of work?
3). How often do you work above 40 hours/week?
A: A lot, and I wish I didn’t
B: Quite often, but I don’t mind or it’s an important stage in my career
C: Sometimes, if help is needed or I know I’ll work less hours the following week
D: Rarely or not at all
4). How often have you, or do you, have to miss social events that you would like to attend?
A: Often, and it bothers me
B: A fair amount, but currently I don’t mind
C: Sometimes, it can be a bit inevitable occasionally
D: Rarely or not at all
5). How often have you technically had the time to do something you would like to do, but have been too tired from work to actually do it?
A: Often, and sometimes I feel my time off is wasted
B: A fair amount, but it’s possibly temporary, or I accept this would be the case
C: Occasionally, I’ll say no to do what I need to do
D: Rarely or not at all
6). What do you think the people in your life would say about your work-life balance?
A: Too much time and energy is dedicated to work, and it’s having a detrimental effect
B: You work very hard, but it’s possibly temporary or they understand this is necessary at the moment
C: You’re dedicated to your job but usually also have the time and energy to see them and do the things you love
D: It’s great! Everyone wants to know your secret.
7). What do you think about your current work-life balance?
A: It’s terrible and I need to find ways to improve it
B: It’s not ideal but I chose this for the time being, hopefully I can improve it later
C: Overall it’s pretty good; there are times you feel it’s inevitable that work takes over, but you also try and prioritise life.
D: I’ve cracked it, this is working for me, and I feel good about it!
You appear to be pretty imbalanced towards the work side of things, and you recognise it may be impacting on your happiness and stress levels. Time to get proactive! It can be a bit overwhelming, so what small changes can you make in the short-term? Perhaps write down or discuss the areas that negatively dominate your time, and see if there is room to reduce them. Consider taking up a new hobby or joining a social team/group- is there something you have always wanted to try? Have a chat with your employer once you have gathered your thoughts to let them know you are not currently happy with your lack of work-life balance, and see if compromises can be made. If that is not an option for you at all, it may be time to consider a new job or role, depending on how you feel your mental health and well-being are being affected.
You are possibly participating in an intense stage of your career, where more time at work is needed to achieve a goal, or get you to where you want to be. Perhaps you are training (internships/certificates, etc), or perhaps you are going for promotion, or taking on more responsibility, so need to spend more time working until you are comfortable in your new role. This isn’t necessarily a poor work-life balance overall, especially if it’s a considered choice, or a temporary situation, but try and remember that excessively working is unlikely to be healthy or productive over time for most people. Try and factor in some downtime or use the little time off you do have wisely.
You’re pretty much there! You are aware that your work is important and are dedicated to it, but usually not at the expense of your interests and social life. If your job is very busy (as is the case for most people within the veterinary industry), you accept that there will be times when it may override your non-working life, but you will generally try and prioritise your other interests, etc, to a level you are happy with. Perhaps there is a bit of room for improvement, so you might want to identify some key areas where you could potentially gain more balance, but you’re not concerned. (This is me, for anyone interested! – VY)
You’re very happy with your work-life balance for you as an individual, and know how to maintain it. You recognise its importance in your life and wouldn’t have it any other way. Please, tell us your ways! 😉 (- Especially if you work in clinical practice- VY).
So there you have it, hopefully that’s given you something to think about, or reassured you that you’re on the right path. Disclaimer: this quiz was not based on any study, but was designed to help you to reflect on your own personal situation with regards to work-life balance.
If you enjoyed this quiz, or found it useful, please get in touch! Wishing you a happy and healthy work-life balance…