Client communication. Research. Prospecting. Meetings. Monitoring accounts. Account analysis. Marketing. Writing. Analysis. Planning. When clients are counting on you to help secure their financial future, and you’re counting on yourself to secure your own future, it’s easy to invest a lot of time in work. And yet, as well all know, all work and no play quickly leads to burnout. Finding a solid work life balance is hard for most professionals, but financial advisors and those in the financial industry are well-known for pushing this to its limit. In fact, research suggests that a better work life balance can improve your concentration, your engagement, and your productivity.
Whether defined as an action or an ongoing state, work life balance refers to the equilibrium that should exist between a person’s work life and personal life. It’s based on an individual’s ability to successfully manage work demands and expectations while still maintaining their personal needs and obligations or vice versa.
Instinctively, most of us know when this balance is off. Still, there are times in our lives when one of these is more demanding than the other and that’s not necessarily indicative of a larger issue. Still, there are signs to look for that your work life balance is off and it’s not just a taxing project or initiative.
Are you checking emails all night? Peeking a look at night before bed? Thinking about work when you should be present at family events or with friends? Is work dominating your thoughts even when you’re not “clocked in”? Are you taking vacation days? Holidays? If you’re constantly working and not taking time off, it may be time to reassess how you’re balancing your life.
You may be having trouble sleeping at night as your mind keeps spinning and thinking about work or maybe you’re having trouble staying awake while working, both are indicators of a lack of balance. Trouble sleeping may cause you to be sleepy at work, or maybe you’re staying out too late. Regardless of which problem is coming first, it indicates you need to prioritize striking a work life balance.
If you find you have no free time, or your friends and family have commented on your absence, you may be spending too much time at work. Similarly, if you find yourself staying out late trying to overcompensate for long work hours, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Whether it’s a messy house, an empty fridge, or you simply find yourself not making time for self-care activities like the gym or hobbies, it may be because work is dominating your life.
If you’re thinking about quitting all the time or simply feeling on the verge of a nervous breakdown with hair trigger reactions to inconveniences rather than major problems, it’s time to take a step back (and a day off).
As you can see, some of the realities of this balance being off can be pretty significant. A lack of balance has the potential to cause significant problems in both your work and personal life.
When you are driven and motivated in your career, maintaining a balance is a challenge. When you factor in a highly competitive industry, like financial services, then it becomes even more of a struggle.
Further, many financial advisors rarely work a 40-hour week. It’s the nature of the business. From clients who request meetings during non-traditional hours to the demands of the job just to stay up-to-date, the demands from work are significant. It’s a difficult career when it comes to “clocking in and out” at specific hours or even keeping a set schedule.
Further, with relationship building and trust being key components of success, being responsive to clients and their needs sometimes necessitates working after you’ve gone home.
Breakaway advisors are at significant risk for not just blurring the line between work and life but fully erasing it with little distinction between work and home. Why? As most breakaway advisors will tell you, especially after the move, there are many demands on time.
Where in the past support came from a wirehouse, many breakaway advisors are now contending with considerable responsibilities that may not have been part of their job. Breakaway advisors may be working on:
In short, the demands of the job, as a breakaway advisor, likely means that there will be considerable time spent on growing your business. So knowing that going in, how can you work, proactively, to ensure you balance the requirements of growing one’s business with the needs of family, friends, and one’s mental health?
With the proper work life balance, you can enjoy greater productivity at work and more enjoyment from your free time. Simply feeling better mentally and physically, including being well-rested, improves your focus and it means you can be more present for your family, friends, and clients. There are many benefits to maintaining a solid work life balance, but it’s harder to know how to do that.
You have a hectic schedule and are juggling a lot of tasks. That means you may be eating lunch at your desk or in your car, answering emails on breaks or from bed in the morning at night. Stop. While the occasional working lunch is perfectly reasonable, building breaks into your day is essential. Even if you don’t have time for a full lunch break, take a 10 minute walk, avoid working while you’re actually eating, or take several short breaks during the day. If you think you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, you’ll be amazed at how even a 10 minute break can give your brain a rest and help you come back to work engaged and focused.
One reason many financial advisors choose to break away is to increase their flexibility. There’s no straight 9-5 for most breakaway advisors, so why hold yourself to that? The NYSE doesn’t open till 9:30 and yet many investment advisors likely find themselves working well before that time. If you don’t have meetings, one day a week, let yourself have a late start. Similarly, many financial planners likely work with clients after the traditional workday is done or even on weekends. Be sure to build in time off compensation for those non-traditional hours.
We know it’s a buzzword, but prioritizing your health and hobbies should be balanced with how much you prioritize your career. If you’re not healthy (physically and mentally), nourished (body and soul), and connected (to self and others), it’s easy to get overwhelmed which results in decreased productivity, poor mood, and feeling burned out.
Often one of the biggest concerns for individuals who have a tendency to overwork themselves is an inability to say no. As a result, you overcommit, in both work and social situations out of multiple fears including that you might let others down or what they might think when you have to cancel or can’t make an meeting or event.
One of the best solutions to this problem is communicating. You’d never doublebook yourself for work meetings because you schedule that time and can communicate that you have a prior commitment. All facets of your life should take the same priority and importance. That means making time for your family and friends, even if you have to schedule it.
While you don’t need to provide a detailed explanation, it’s pretty easy to explain that you have a prior commitment that will make it difficult for you to attend an event or meeting.
Re-establishing a balance doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, even noticing there’s a lack of balance doesn’t happen overnight. There’s often a slow steady creep of work bleeding into your personal life and so reclaiming that needs to happen in small steps as well. Start with small breaks during the day, you can even turn those into relationship building opportunities. Talk to a co-worker about non-work related topics, text your spouse/partner, or child, but definitely take 10 minutes out of your workday to take a break.
Similarly, if you know you’re prone to answering work emails at home, limit your time or even set aside a specific time to let yourself check emails, then put away the phone or shut the laptop.
Drawing boundaries is hard, especially once they have been blurred, but reclaiming them will actually be beneficial to both your work and personal life. In a competitive industry, you’ll have to align this balance with your overall career goals, but it’s worth considering that finding that balance can actually help boost your career by boosting productivity and increasing your support.
If you’re looking for a new firm, a new partner, or a new situation to help you achieve a greater work life balance, get in touch with the FA Match team today. We know a little bit about balancing and quite a bit about careers in financial advising.