Features: February 15th, 2013

Getting the work life balance right is sometimes seen as a juggling act with time. Janice Haddon explains that it is much more complicated than that. Getting the right balance is about meeting our needs and she offers a way to analyse what those needs are. She describes how, using the analyis it’s possible to improve satisfaction levels and get a better work life balance.

Work life balance….we all have our own interpretation of what it means…. And it therefore means different things to each of us. It isn’t about having a 50/50 split on how much time we spend in our work compared to our personal life – it is very much a personal experience and what equates to a good balance for us as individuals.

Maybe there are people out there that are ecstatically happy with life not wanting to improve or change anything at all. To be honest I have been coaching people for many years and not come across one of them! Everyone I have met – no matter how happy or depressed – have all wanted to improve on something – we are built to want more – to grow. Life is something to be enjoyed after all.

It’s all about meeting your essential needs…

So – Essential Needs? What on earth is that all about?
Based on latest psychology and psychological thinking and research, our Essential Needs© are the fundamental emotional needs that have to be met. They need to be met with a level of personal satisfaction in order for us to feel happy and fulfilled. When they are not met, things can feel out of balance. And that is when we don’t feel quite right. And that is when we can start looking around for the cause and randomly project the blame out on to something or someone else! And that isn’t a great place to be.

The truth of the matter is that there may be an element of those things in there leading to our dissatisfaction but that isn’t always the case – and it isn’t the whole story. When more than two or three of these Essential Needs are in levels of dissatisfaction, that is when we start to tumble downwards and feel low – even stressed or depressed.

Understanding your needs and how to get them met puts you in the driving seat.

So the fundamentals to us as human beings are that we have certain needs and they must be met and satisfied. Here they are:

• We need to feel safe – in our home, our work place, our environment, with the people around us – free from bullying and harassment and other people trying to control us.

• We need to feel in control – this isn’t about controlling others, but about feeling in control of ourselves and what is going on in our lives. Feeling grounded and having a grip on reality!

• Having a connection to others – there are a few things here – we need intimacy and love in our lives. We also need the connection out to a wider circle of friends, our family – a wider community. Being able to have respectful communications with others is key and being respected in those interactions is vital.

• Having privacy – time to integrate all that has gone on for us in the day. Time for ourselves – to enjoy – to relax. Taking time out for ourselves allows us to build up our energy levels and inner resilience.

• Having a sense of status and feeling valued – not about what level job we do – but about being acknowledged for what we do and the contribution that we make out there in the world and to others.

• Feeling competent and achieving things is vital to boost our sense of self-esteem. Wandering aimlessly as a cloud is for another time – this is about getting things done and feeling good about it!

• Having mental stimulation and challenge – allowing creativity into being – working our brain. It is like a muscle after all – so use it or lose it!

(Essential Needs? are derived from the work of the Human Givens Institute)

So if those are the things we need to feel satisfied with, how do we go about it? And how on earth do you work out how you feel right now! The trick to this is looking at how your needs are being met across all areas of your life.

In that, you need to look at ALL areas of your life:

• Your work / career
• Finances
• Physical fitness
• Health and nutrition
• Family
• Friends
• Significant other / romance
• Social
• Personal growth
• Spiritual development / religion
• Your physical environment

There is a full Life Balance Audit that you can do but here’s a simple and quick way of understanding how satisfied you are with each area of your life and with each of your Essential Needs©. For each one, rank your level of satisfaction from 0 to 10 (where 10 is as good as it gets).

How you get your needs met in each of the areas of your life will mean different things to different people – we all live in our own reality after all! For example for one person – finance and personal space may not mean anything – whereas for someone else, money may be needed to create down time, things for relaxation, the ability to take time out.

For some – spiritual needs and religion may not come into the equation – whereas for others it can be the foundation stone for finding peace and for ensuring a connection to a wider community. All things mean different things to different people. If you have a score of less than 5 then consider what you can do to improve on it. Set yourself some goals to bring more satisfaction and happiness in. And for those you have scored the highest – have a think about what makes it so good? Who contributes to your level of satisfaction? Maybe let them know and express how grateful you are for what they bring to your life.

A good balance is when we feel satisfied with how much time to spend in each area. When we feel out of balance is when time spent in one area adversely impacts on the other. And an adverse impact can include not having time to do things with loved ones, due to pressures in work, or feeling guilty for being in work when friends and family have expectations for us to be spending time with them instead.

It is all about how satisfied you feel – if you are happy and enjoying the time you spend in work and the time you have for personal activities – Great!

If you don’t feel happy….take time to work out why and then do something positive to make a difference – bring more happiness and balance into your life.

You get one chance at everyday – so make the most of it!

Janice Haddon has over 25 years’ experience in strategic and operational Human Resources and management consultancy.A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, an MA in Psychotherapy and an MBA from Henley Management College, Janice is also a Master Practitioner in NLP, a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapy Counsellor and runs a number of businesses including Morgan Redwood.