Work-life balance is often viewed as a myth or at best an elusive ideal that only a select few ever attain. The Four Burners Theory suggests that to be successful and high performing in any one area, you have to turn off one of four burners: work, health, family, friends. For many of us, our careers take center focus and our health and social life are the burners that we allow to diminish. While making tradeoffs is a reality of life, there are some ways you can build strong relationships with family, friends, and neighbors while balancing other priorities in your life.
01. The Coupling. Think about activities in your life that align well together. Going on walking meetings at work, volunteering with your neighbors at a soup kitchen, taking a Zumba class with your best friend, attending a lecture on environmental sustainability with a work colleague, and cooking a healthy meal with your partner all lend themselves to pairing healthy behaviors and interests with your work and social life.
02. The 15-Minute Check-In. Consider calling a parent, a close friend, or sibling during small pockets of time in your day when you’re waiting for a train or walking to work. With the benefit of not needing much planning or coordination, a 5-15 minute check-in is a perfect opportunity to catch up, vent, or share exciting news. I find that these few minutes of connecting with a family member or friend always refresh me, bringing me a sense of rootedness and joy to what can be an otherwise chaotic day.
03. The Life Chat. Get together with a friend for a couple hours and engage in a deeper discussion, or “life chat,” in which you share high points as well as challenges you are experiencing in different areas of your life: career, health and wellness, family and friends, spirituality, travel, volunteering and advocacy, and other interests. Life chats are re-energizing and enable you to learn from each other through meaningful dialog. About once a month, my friend and I host each other in the comfort of our apartment, where we enjoy sipping wine, snacking on cheese and taquitos, and eating an exorbitant amount of chocolate. What could be better!
With studies linking social support with better health and lower mortality, making small tweaks like these to your social life have the potential for large impacts across the different areas of your life.
Picture from here.