NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Balancing Your Career and Your Personal Life

It seems to me that, for a variety of reasons, it's getting harder to balance a successful career with a fulfilling personal life.  As a psychotherapist in New York City, I often hear therapy clients lament the fact that their career has taken over so much of their time that they have less and less time for their personal lives (see my article: Living a Balance Life as a Path to Happiness).

Balancing Your Career and Your Personal Life

Being Too Available After Work Hours
With all our technological advances, many people are finding themselves overloaded with information and the demands of being available nearly 24/7.  Even for people who want to have more of a balance between their work and personal life, they feel compelled to be available after work hours because of the competitive nature of their careers.  They often tell me that they fear that if they don't make themselves available when they're home, their colleagues, who are more available, will surpass them at work.

The dilemma is that when you're unable to set boundaries so that your work isn't encroaching upon your personal time, you're often less productive.  And, in the long run, you're much more likely to suffer burnout.  After all, you're human--you're not a machine.  And even machines break down after a while if they're not maintained.

So how can balance your career and your personal life so that you can take care of yourself?

Here are some tips:

Quality of Life: Weigh Your Career Options and Consider Your Priorities
Before you accept a new job, consider how demanding the job will be and how it will affect your personal life.

If you know that you'd be unhappy with a job where you would be expected to spend a lot of extra time, which would take away from your personal life, think about how this will affect the quality of your life.

Some people, who are new to their careers, are willing to spend a lot of extra time at the start of their careers as opposed to people who are in the late stage of their careers.  Only you can decide what's right for you.

If you have a spouse or significant other, you would be wise to consult with him or her about how this might affect your relationship.  Relationships need to be nurtured and there's no substitute for time together.

I'm aware that this isn't as simple as it sounds.  Many people take demanding jobs because they are lucrative and the money could pay for a home, their children's education, nice vacations and other things that are desirable.  But once they're in the job, they discover that the job is so demanding that they don't even have time to take the vacations that they fantasized about because they're too busy at work.

The Importance of Self Care

Take Breaks During the Workday
Cumulative stress and burnout are more common today than they were 15 or 20 years ago.  Economic uncertainty and workplace insecurities often keep employees going like a gerbil on a wheel.

But even if you have a very stressful job, there are often times when you can take breaks, even if it's for 20-30 minutes to regroup.  Usually, people find that taking even a short break helps them to feel refreshed and reinvigorated for whatever tasks they're engaged in.

Take Vacations
Aside from taking daily breaks, it's very important to take a vacation away from work and away from your daily routine.

Many people are afraid to take a vacation because they feel their work will suffer if they're not around to do it.  Usually, it's just the opposite--getting away for a week or two actually allows you to come back refreshed.

Maintain Non-Work-Related Interests
When all you do is focus on your work and you have no interests or hobbies outside of work, you don't give yourself a chance to leave your work behind.

Just like taking breaks at work is important, having other interests that are non-work related will often make you a more well rounded and creative person.  You'll come back to your work projects refreshed.

Allow Time For Your Spouse/Significant Other, Family and Friends
Scheduling pleasurable activities with your spouse, partner, family and friends are essential to nurturing your close relationships.

It's so easy to allow yourself to become so inundated by work that you neglect your relationship with your spouse or significant other.  In a prior blog article, Creating Special Times Together, I discuss the importance of taking the time to create special times for your relationship.

Getting Help in Therapy
Many people have difficulty balancing their career and personal life and they need help.  If you're having problems, you could benefit from seeing a licensed mental health practitioner who has experiencing helping people to create balance in their lives.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many clients to live more balanced and fulfilling lives.

To find out more about me, visit my web site:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.