Achieving Work-life Balance

By Dr. Lynn Friedman
Special to
Tuesday, November 29, 2005; 3:19 PM

Washington boasts a disproportionately high number of well-educated, well-paid, successful, young professionals. Ask a sample of these professionals if they are happy with their work and a surprising number will tell you, "no." Ask them why they stay and many will tell you that it's the money or the prestige.

Washington is a career-oriented city and most Washingtonians will characterize their jobs, whether they like them or not, as "stressful."

But, why the unhappiness? And, what do you do if you are well-paid and successful but unhappy with your work?

If you are unhappy in your work, there are two things to consider carefully:

  • First, how did you get to where you are?

  • Second, how are you balancing your work with the other important aspects of your life such as family, community, finances, hobbies/interests and spirituality?

    How did you get to where you are? How did you get to where you are professionally? Are you doing work that you love? Does your work have meaning for you? Ask yourself how you ended up here. Was it a well-informed choice based on your loves and interests at the time? Or, was the choice driven by a need to please someone else such as a parent or a spouse? Or, was it a need to do something or "be something" that prompted you to make your current choice?If you chose your current position for any of these reasons, ask yourself how you feel about it. People who subordinate their own interests to please or impress others may feel angry and resentful.

    These types of feelings can make it very difficult to enjoy even the pleasurable aspects of work.

    Ask yourself why you remain in that field. If you left that field, who would you disappoint or please, and why? How do you feel about the reactions you believe you will engender? A career choice, made to please parents or spouses, or to outstrip siblings, is unlikely to culminate in happiness. Ultimately, you will be happiest when you make professional choices to please yourself.

    Try to learn as much as you can about your own preferences in your job.

    Articulate what you like and dislike about it with respect to:

  •  Every day tasks

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