Why a Thriving Personal Life Strengthens Your Career

Disclaimer: Work-life balance is still a constant struggle for me. But over the years I've slowly but surely adopted this mindset which has helped a ton with my happiness and success.

I am a recovering pseudo-workaholic. I say pseudo because I’ve always loved my personal life way too much to be a true workaholic. With that said, at times I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with work. At my first full-time TV job, I would take a sleeping aid to fall asleep at 7 p.m. to wake up at 2 a.m. I’d work 10-12 hour days with no break, only to come home and research the next job I wanted. I realized there had to be a more fulfilling way to approach my professional life.

Luckily some wise individuals have offered me life-changing advice on this very topic, inspiring me to give my work-life balance ratio a makeover.

The highlights can be summed up in 5 points:

1) The more personable you are, the more marketable you are.

When I first graduated college, I would ask for meetings with everyone who could offer me career advice. One of the kind people who obliged was meteorologist Amy Freeze (yes that’s her real name). She got married while she was in college, has four kids and still manages to have a thriving career at the ABC station in New York City. She told me that viewers, like real people, have lives and loved ones outside of work. That’s why fellow parents find her relatable.

This is true for all professions that work with people. Nobody wants to work with a doctor, sales or accounting robot. People will connect with and trust you more if you have hobbies, life experiences and interesting stories. After all, we are all in the relationship business.

2) Stay inspired by fueling your creativity.

"Sometimes, you just have to clear your head and get out to see things. It is very important to be nourished. I love to go to museums and galleries. I like to see theatre, film, dance - anything creative. It doesn't promise you inspiration, but it nourishes your creative soul, and that's good." --Marc Jacobs

All good (creative) work is rooted in inspiration. If we are work robots and don’t nourish our creative lives our inspiration goes dry. It’s like a flower in a waterless vase; the flower will soon die. Okay, that was dramatic… my apologies.

On a serious note, everyone from Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way to my acting teacher to my mom have reinforced this idea. My favorite explanation is from Brian Patacca, the CEO of Actor Salon. He says your career is like a wheel, and the wheel spins faster when you fuel your inspiration.

So if you’re waiting for someone’s permission to watch that movie, take that trip, cook that meal, read that book or go to that museum, here it is my friend!

3) You’ll be happier.

“Happiness is contagious and will always manage to find a solution.” ― Paulo Coelho

The bottom line is this: People like happy people. That includes your loved-ones, customers, boss and most importantly YOU! When you are doing things to contribute to your happiness, you’re actually attracting people to you. Not to mention, you get to be happy. Now that’s what I call a win-win situation.

In order to feel my happiest, I know I need to sleep, work-out, eat healthy (in moderation), feed my spiritual life, spend time with those I love, do things just for fun, etc.

4) Stress will lower the quality of your performance.

If you’ve ever had to perform in the literal or figurative sense, you know a healthy dose of nervousness or stress can be a good thing. Still to this day, I get butterflies in my stomach when a director says “stand by” leading up to going live. And guess that? I love it! I thrive off of this feeling.

But once we cross that fine line from healthy dose to debilitating dose, the quality of our performance lowers. Don’t take my word for it. There are all these super smart scholars who say so, like this one.

If our life revolves around our work, that’s a lot of freaking pressure. Not only are we making it harder to succeed, if we don’t, the devastation is much greater.

Let’s avoid this, k?

5) You’ll be more productive.

“I studied, I met with medical doctors, scientists, and I’m here to tell you that the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is: getting enough sleep.” — Arianna Huffington

I love how HuffPo president Arianna Huffington is not only crazy successful, she’s also a huge proponent of work-life balance. You should check out her book Thrive or watch her Ted talk for more of her incredible wisdom.

Basically when we are well-rested and our personal lives are nourished, we are going to be more energetic, faster, less distracted, and ultimately, more productive.

As my mom says, “Work smarter, not harder!”

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