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Balancing work and life is a challenge that the majority of us will always face but not one that we have to be a slave to; it can come naturally with practice, just like anything else. Within our industry, balance can certainly seem like a distant concept or one that is reserved for the 9-5ers. In reality, a work-life balance can be had by everyone. What you need to ask yourself is, how can you afford it? What are your priorities in life; where and on what do you want to spend your precious time? Should you use ketchup or mustard?!

balance work and life as a hospitality server waiter

How Can You Afford It?

Regardless of what you do for a living, everyone needs to understand their financial situation before they can begin to find their balance. If you’re working less than 40 hours a week and making enough money to pay your bills, eat and save for the future, then you’re fortunate enough to have more flexibility and options on the path to finding your balance. If you’re a busser, dishwasher or simply an underpaid sous working multiple jobs, then this will be more of a challenge for you. For those that can afford it, be grateful, you have a great advantage when it comes to taking control of your time.

For those that feel as though they can’t afford it, don’t despair, the time and energy you’re putting in now will be worth it. It’s important to remember that you are responsible for building your own future and you are in control of it. You may not be able to work less right now, but you are working more than those around you in order to achieve that balance in the future. Setting a goal, whether it be rising the ranks to a more profitable position in the industry or getting an education that will pave the way to another career path, is the priority. Those efforts will bring balance to your life as you come closer to your goal. The key to this process is sticking to your goals and gaining strength from the efforts you put in towards a brighter future.

oyster cheers balance in life

What Are Your Priorities

We all have different passions, hobbies and loved ones that we’d rather focus on that don’t necessarily pay the bills. For some people, their job is a passion and that is wonderful, but even those rare individuals have other things they would love to spend their time doing. Figuring out those priorities is the first step towards spending more of your valuable time with them. Each of us has to decide how much our time is worth. If we’re in a place that we can afford to work less than 40 hours a week, then we should explore that. Try replacing a shift a week with time spent on something you love. The happiness or growth you receive from that activity should make up for the lost income or be helping you build a better future. Finding that balance is what it’s all about. Just be mindful that although working less sounds lovely, you still have to pay your bills and don’t want to end up tipped back in the wrong direction.

balance in life get outside

Finding Balance

With a better understanding of your financial well-being, how much you value your time and your life’s priorities, you can start to find a better work-life balance. Begin by evaluating how you spend your free time, do you use it for your priorities or are you too exhausted emotionally or physically to do so? If you find that you have the energy but aren’t taking advantage of that free time, then make a greater effort to do so. Set goals for the week, month and year that bring your priorities into focus and further your growth as a well rounded individual. Create to-do lists that help you on a daily basis to complete life’s regular tasks while still leaving time for your priorities and your work schedule. Unless you’re stuck on a double, there is always time before or after work to focus on your priorities, just make sure that is what you use that time for. Feeling like you need more free time doesn't necessarily mean your only option is to work less; in some cases it’s just a matter of using your free time more effectively.

Unfortunately, for many who work multiple jobs or have families to care for, free time is at a premium or simply a nonexistent luxury. You may not have a great deal of control over your limited free time but you do have some control over how you choose to spend your time working. Finding a job that suits your needs better is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Your time is valuable even if others might not pay you as though it is. Do your best to look towards your next step; how you will get there and what you need to do and learn to achieve more flexibility, financial safety and eventually more balance.

Everyone deserves to feel balanced in their life, to spend time with their loved ones, to explore nature and to find joy in the everyday. A balanced life is not a path that is exclusive to anyone. So many of the stars of our industry came from humble beginnings and unbalanced lives. It took a lot of hard work but they were able to one day find balance, joy and freedom just as we all deserve.

written by Alex Navarro