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Ambition vs Balance: Where Do You Go Wrong? 
Ambition vs Balance: Where Do You Go Wrong? 
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Money Psychology

Ambition vs Balance: Where Do You Go Wrong? 

Imou Eparis
August 28, 2023

We all want to live meaningful and fulfilled lives both at work and at home without sacrificing aspects of either. Too much work can be terrifying, you feel overwhelmed and experience burnout, stress and fatigue. At the same time little to no work is boring and could lead to unpaid bills or excessive borrowing. How can you meet in the middle and not become overwhelmed or too bored from lack of work?

There are a lot of factors that affect work-life balance. These factors could be related to an individual, work-related or family-related. Here is a list of some of the factors that affect work-life balance. 

How do we go wrong?

Management Issues

Innocent is a business graduate who values his personal and work life. However because of his never-ending workload, Innocent is having a difficult time finding the time to actively participate in his community, or do the things he loves. He has the option of taking advantage of work policies like flexible work hours. However, his supervisor expects him to be on call 24/7. Innocent loves his job and dreams of getting a promotion one day. As a result, he decides to forgo the policies in order to make himself more available and impress his supervisor. 

The story of Innocent is not one of a kind, an organisation’s manager/ supervisor plays a vital role in initiating work-life balance policies for its employees. If an organisation emphasises proper work-life balance policies, it can lead to better performance and employee satisfaction. Through managers’ attitudes and conduct, they can indicate or not indicate that there will be consequences for those who prioritize or give equal significance to family and work commitments. They have the authority to encourage or discourage employees from implementing family-friendly policies. Work-life balance can be negatively impacted by a boss whose expectations conflict with their employees' personal objectives.

While one of the common causes of poor work-life balance is poor management that isn’t always the case. Some business struggle with a work environment where employees are either rewarded for working excessive hours or feel under constant pressure to perform. Addressing such work cultures is not an easy task. Two ways you can tackle this issue are by 

  1. Avoid responding to emails outside of work hours; if you work flexible hours and have the habit of responding to emails after hours or on the weekend, plan to send them during normal business hours.
  1. Set boundaries on what can be talked about at work.

Read Also: How to Create Life Balance as a Working Mom

Employee Attitude

Employee performance affects organisational productivity. The success or the fall of any business is dependent on the attitude of employees this includes job satisfaction, job engagement and employee commitment.  Employees who are committed and satisfied with their work are unlikely to show low performance. They are usually highly productive and are in line with organizational goals and values. 


Your workload plays a crucial role in terms of how much stress you will experience and how big of an imbalance you will have at work and at home. When you experience an increased work demand, then you might find it difficult to balance your time and energy on your work and personal life. Your workload is influenced by three different factors: external factors like work hours, breaks, and shift work. Your work environment, which includes things like temperature, lighting intensity, dust, and employee relations with other employees. 

Psychological factors include motivation, perception, belief, desire, and satisfaction. The last factor is the internal factors that include gender, age, body size, health, and nutritional status, among others. In addition to influencing factors, the workload also has targets to be achieved, working conditions, use of time and work standards.

Other ways we go wrong is by having longer work hours or having increased responsibilities at home. 

Read Also: To Drop Out or Not? Balancing School and Work

How to Improve Work-life Balance

1. Use Available Leave Time - There is nothing wrong with aiming high at work. However, if you are married to your work and not able to find a balance you might experience burnout in the future.

Utilise those available leave days,  including vacation, sick days, and paternity or maternity leave, from your employer. Employers give employees this time off for a reason, they are aware that having, healthy, contented and rested employees boosts the workforce's productivity over the long term.

2. Learn to say no - Being a "go-getter" is acceptable in both our professional and personal lives. However, you have to be vigilant so that you don't get caught up in saying “yes”  to everything. You might find yourself being pushed past your breaking point.  Saying no will go a long way, especially in situations where you feel you simply don't have enough time in the day to achieve your goals. Everyone has their limits. You'll be more productive at home and at work if you are conscious of your personal limitations.

Read Also:Why Saying No is an Essential Life Skill

3. Learn to ask for help and support - Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness on the contrary it might be what you need to find a balance in your work life and help you thrive. This is particularly true for parents who frequently want flexible and accessible child care to manage their lifestyles.

4. Accept There is no Perfect Work-life balance-  “Work-life balance will mean different things to different people because we all have different life commitments. In our always-on world, balance is a very personal thing, and only you can decide the lifestyle that suits you best, Chris Chancey, career expert and CEO of Amplio Recruiting said in an interview with When you hear people say work-life balance you most likely imagine having a very productive day at work, clocking out early and then spending the rest of the day with family or friends.  This sounds ideal but that's not always the case. Instead of aiming for the ideal schedule, make a realistic one. You might put more of your attention into work on some days. While on other days, you might have more time and energy to engage in hobbies or spend time with loved ones. Balance is achieved over time and not every day.


Often when we start a big project or we are at the start of our career, we give it all of our time and effort. We are more or less married to our work. For your career success, you ultimately need to find balance. Ambition isn’t bad but what are the consequences if all we do is eat, sleep and think of work?  In uncertain economic times, people are understandably reluctant to take needed breaks or turn down assignments. But according to  Dr. Stewart Friedman, an organizational psychologist at Wharton Business School and founder of its Work/Life Integration Project, told psychology today in a recent interview that almost 30 years of research suggests that we don’t have to sacrifice the things that matter most to us in our personal lives in order to succeed in our careers. Dr. Stewart further states that according to studies they have conducted they have found that people are more likely to be successful, feel less stressed, perform better and be more in harmony when they are able to integrate four key domains in their lives, that is, your community, family, career and yourself.

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Imou is a content writer who has worked in the digital space for a while now. This has exposed her to a variety of interesting topics that have piqued her interest and pushed her to experiment with her writing. Apart from articles, Imou writes poetry and fiction. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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