Is work-life balance attainable, or is it an unrealistic goal to set?
According to the Forbes Health-Ipsos Monthly Health Tracker, 90% of employed respondents noted that “work-life balance is an important aspect of their job.”
From my own experience as a C-suite executive and mom of two, work-life balance is an ever-moving target, but there are absolutely ways to achieve a better balance between work and living the life you desire. It just takes planning, focus and a little give and take from each aspect of your life.
As we start planning our goals for next year and surviving this busy and sometimes expensive holiday season, let’s use some financial tools that should lessen the stress for 2024.
Plan ahead and automate
The easiest way to save without thinking is to automate your savings and bill payments. I’m not saying set it and forget it, but set up your regular bills — such as rent/mortgage, car payment, utilities, etc., to pay automatically. It’s important to still review what’s going out and your month-over-month cost. The same goes with establishing savings goals: If your employer offers a 401(k), make sure you participate by setting a paycheck dollar amount or a percentage of earnings. Or if they don’t, setting up automatic deposits into an IRA or Roth IRA. Want to help your kids with future education expenses? Use the same method with a 529 plan, or even a separate high-yield savings account earmarked for long-term goals.
Having a plan for what will happen with your money when it hits your account takes the burden off of monitoring it daily or weekly. It’s still a good habit to set a monthly “financial review” to ensure everything still makes sense for your current situation, especially if you have a significant other.
If you’re not a fan of financial automation, set tasks on your calendar for when bills are due so there is no burden to remember all of those little details. Make room in your brain for more important things. Removing these unnecessary stressors is what helps contribute to a healthier well-being and life balance.
As we are about to start a new year, it makes sense to review your upcoming goals for the year and decide which financial objectives you are trying to hit. Whether it’s a specific tangible goal or just general financial habits you want to establish, make a plan to save monthly in a specific account for next year’s goals.
Lastly, this is a good time to review your expenses and see if there are any unnecessary subscriptions or items that you are paying for but that no longer do much for you — clean up those excess expenses and use that money for something that will bring you happiness.
Invest in yourself
Are you one of those people who takes care of everyone else but forgets to take care of yourself? If you are, now is the time to change that! A hard lesson I’ve had to learn over the years — if you aren’t taking care of yourself, then you can’t take care of the people you love.
This is something I’ve personally struggled with, and while each person has their own habits that help them with stress relief, here are some examples that have made a world of change in my life.
- Make exercise a priority. I joined Pure Barre and became obsessed with my 6 a.m. classes and the community of women I see each morning. These classes help me start my day with energy, and it’s my time before the kids wake up. Find the time where you can let your thinking brain rest and simply move your body. While classes can be expensive, it’s worth every penny for my long-term health and happiness, but find what works best for you and makes exercising fun.
- Take more walks. When I work remotely, I try to take a 30-minute walk. This is where I get my best ideas for both work and life as I listen to podcasts, audiobooks or webinars. It’s amazing what happens when you let not only your mind but your body wander! Also, “walking meetings” help get the creative juices flowing and inspire others to follow suit.
- Invest in your office setup. During the pandemic, I was having terrible back and neck problems and finally realized it was mostly due to my terrible work chair. Last year, I went on OfferUp and found a high-end chair at a discounted price. It’s made a world of difference. Since we sit at our desks so much, make sure you have the right equipment that works for you — maybe a proper desk or the ability to stand while you work or bigger screens. These all make the long hours more bearable and help you be more efficient!
Give yourself a break
We all want to feel able to “do it all,” but sometimes it doesn’t make sense not to ask for help. To start, pinpoint the chores or things you hate doing the most and, if possible, try to offload them.
Whether your spouse can help make lunches or a child can learn to fold laundry, feed the dog or take out the trash, make sure every household member is helping to pull their weight at age-appropriate levels. If you don’t have in-house support, consider utilizing outside resources, such as a dog walker, grocery delivery or housecleaning, to free up your time and energy to do something you enjoy instead of feeling burnt out and exhausted.
A great tip I heard recently from a fellow professional/parent was to plan a day off when your kids are at school. During this day off, I did things I wanted to do for myself, such as getting my hair done, browsing HomeGoods, getting a healthy lunch alone, making a batch of cookies and squeezing in some reading time. None of it had to be done — well, minus the hair — but it felt like I had a little control of my own free time and personal happiness. Or if you and your spouse need some alone time together, you should both take the day off while the kids are at school and plan a fun date day without having to pay for childcare.
As we gear up for a refreshing new year, don’t let stress and work bog you down physically or mentally. Start with these tips to plan for a better-balanced 2024 and beyond. The key to success: Keep evaluating what’s working and not working and make approachable adjustments. Having a plan, though, should help kick-start a better work-life balance from the get-go!
Kelli Kiemle holds multiple roles with Halbert Hargrove. As Managing Director of Growth and Client Experience, she sets the tone for the quality and character of Halbert Hargrove's client service relationships. She also manages the associate wealth advisers and client service managers. Kelli is also responsible for overseeing the firm's wide-ranging marketing and communications initiatives, including their mentor program.
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