You are the Boss of Your Well-Being

5 Steps to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Shira Miller
6 min readOct 21, 2021
Photo credit: Al Simonov via iStock

Some things have achieved mythical status, like searching for the Holy Grail or finding Big Foot thriving in the wilderness. The same is true when it comes to looking for an employer that will provide you with more work-life balance. Instead of relying on an organization to grant you greater well-being, here’s a hot tip — you should start creating it for yourself.

A Changing Landscape

A whole host of recent factors have changed the way people work and live, giving you greater empowerment to support your needs and goals. Many individuals were already working excessive hours, answering texts 24/7 and always being “on” to solve problems and manage situations.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic normalized the widespread adoption of remote work, further blurring lines between your personal and professional worlds. It’s no wonder that burnout is on the rise.

A March 2021 survey conducted by Indeed found that 52% of respondents felt burnout, and 67% said that feeling has gotten worse over the course of the pandemic.

Findings also showed that people are working longer hours, making it harder to unplug and take care of themselves. More than half of remote workers reported working more hours now than they were in the office, with 31% saying they are working “much more” than before the pandemic.

“While remote work affords employees greater flexibility, it also makes disconnecting extremely difficult,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half International, in a news release about their own November 2020 poll which found that nearly 70% of employees who transitioned to remote work because of COVID now worked on weekends.

“Many people feel pressure to keep up with rising workloads and are putting in long hours to support the business and customer needs,” he continued. “But everyone needs time to rest and recharge in order to give their best.”

There has also been a shift in what people value — or to be clear, having them actively make life changes to live in alignment with their values.

Heard about the Great Resignation, with massive amounts of people quitting their jobs these days regardless of whether they have another offer in hand? In October 2021 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 4.3 million Americans, nearly 3% of the entire U.S. workforce, quit their jobs — a record-breaking occurrence even in our current tight labor market.

Some made good on the lyrics of that old school country song (“take this job and shove it”) to take a complete break while others kept bridges intact while moving on the greener pastures. Sure, it might have been about more money or a better career opportunity. But a number of those individuals were motivated by a conscious choice to create a more fulfilling life.

Go for a blend versus a balance

I’m not a math person. But you don’t have to be one to know that there’s no way to create a perfect 50/50 divide between your career and the rest of your life.

A need to meet deadlines or capitalize on emerging opportunities may force you to spend more hours prioritizing work while a few weeks later, your job takes the back burner as you navigate a family emergency or moving into a new home. Things will ebb and flow on a daily basis as well.

So instead of trying to navigate a balance, many people aim for a healthy blend of both activities. You don’t have to do everything at once in this mindset. It is about constantly make choices and reprioritizing what gets your attention, depending on evolving circumstances as much as a daily to do list.

Something to keep in mind is that even the most enlightened companies are businesses. They exist to make a profit or whatever their equivalent measure of success might be. Numerous organizations have rolled out beefed up well-being programs to increase satisfaction because it is the right thing to do, but the cost justification internally is often about retaining and recruiting employees.

Your boss might genuinely care about your well-being; I certainly want my team members to live their best, most fulfilling lives. But ultimately, you have to deliver results because if you don’t, the company fails to meet the expectations of shareowners, customers, business partners and whoever else holds it accountable.

So it doesn’t matter if you jump to a new company that is supposed to have a phenomenal culture or hope to find a better way to work in your existing situation. When it comes to your well-being, remember that you are the boss.

No matter wellness initiatives have popped up in your workplace, you still have to take advantage of them or design a different way of work that best meets your needs.

Claim Your Well-Being

Well-being doesn’t just spontaneously happen. Actively claiming it is essential. Here are 5 steps to prioritize greater well-being by improving your work-life balance:

1. Define what work-life balance means for you.

For some of your co-workers, that can mean the ability to attend their child’s soccer game in the middle of the afternoon while still taking calls if needed while others thrive on the “work hard-play hard” paradigm and counter their grueling job by training for and competing in long-distance triathlons. Jot down some notes about what the ideal blend looks like in your world.

2. Prioritize the “life” part first.

You job is a subset of your overall life. Many of us work to pay bills and put food on the table; getting a paycheck doing something enjoyable is a nice bonus. But all jobs have an expiration date, whether that is two years or 20, while you continue on.

In the words of the fabulous Dolly Parton, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Make the most of your time on earth doing things that are meaningful. Think about what relationships and experiences bring you the most fulfillment and ensure you make time for them.

3. Schedule your well-being.

I live and die by my calendar. Everything goes on it; work meetings, hair appointments, social gatherings and more. That includes booking time for bursts of well-being that break up my work schedule.

For example, now that I work from home a couple of days a week, I regularly take a Pilates class at lunch on Fridays. It restores my mental wellness while strengthening core muscles and I really enjoy that class. So I protect it with an on-going calendar block that accounts for the commute to/from the studio back to my home office.

4. Support yourself with self-care.

It doesn’t matter if you are working remotely or in an office when dealing with intense work pressures. Consider how you can infuse a healthy blend of self-care into long-days filled with lots of demands.

Take a week to notice how you feel at certain points in the day. Exhausted after loading up on baked goods during a morning coffee break? Energized after guzzling two cups of water following a meeting? Note what behaviors add to your well-being and others that detract from it.

Pick one manageable change to start with and adopt that new self-care practice. Let’s say that you have been binging junk food at lunch because that’s the easy thing to have delivered on demand. But then you feel awful afterwards and can’t concentrate on important tasks. Your one change could be planning ahead when it comes to lunch, either preparing or picking up something that is delicious and healthier.

Once that becomes your norm, think about increasing your well-being by adding other supportive behaviors.

5. Plan breaks.

Want to be more successful? Take breaks in between busy times so you can bounce back stronger than before. As I write this article, I’m coming out of a particularly hectic time in my life.

At my corporate job, I launched a major rebranding effort while collaborating with my editor on a major rewrite of my book project. It felt like I never stopped working, writing, or planning over the past few months, and I was exhausted. What I needed was a break from that grueling routine.

What helped was wrapping up work deadlines and attending a company meeting out of town for a few days where I needed to be an active, intelligent participant but didn’t have to be in charge. Simultaneously I took a week off of writing anything else. Taking that break restored me. When I woke up this morning, my desire to write returned with the idea for this article.

How have you created more well-being for yourself? What is your philosophy on handling a work-life balance or blend?



Shira Miller

2x TEDx Speaker, Executive Coach, Chief Communications Officer and Writer with a strong passion for well-being and self-improvement