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Malaysians are becoming the world’s biggest workaholics, with 90% of the workforce working even when they are on holiday, The Star reports.

According to The Star, the survey by Expedia also revealed that Malaysians spent about 40 hours a week at work but received only an average of 14 days of annual leave, among the lowest in the world. But despite the limited number of days, on average, Malaysians did not use about 7% of their leave. The majority of them say they’ve experienced career burnout, and the workers admit that they don’t have the work-life balance that they need.

What many folks struggling with work-life balance don’t realize is that this balance isn’t about having more free time. It’s about creating appropriate space for all of the important things in your life so that you can succeed in your job, in your relationships, and in pursuit of your personal interests and passions.

Here are three ways that you can achieve that essential harmony and improve your Return on Life.

1. Set priorities.

Even if you are not a top-level executive, you have more control over your daily schedule than you probably realize. Simple changes like adjusting your sleep schedule can create valuable time that you can use to exercise, read, reflect, enjoy an extra meal with your spouse, or put in some extra work on a dream project.

To some degree, you also have the power to set “non-negotiables.” That might mean looking at your blank calendar at the beginning of the year and filling in family celebrations and vacation days before anything else. Or, if you know you just can’t resist that DING from your work email, set a strict clock-out time and power down your devices so you can focus on your family or hit the driving range.

And if your current employer really, truly, makes these kinds of adjustments impossible? Remember that there are thousands of companies all over the world right now that are battling for top talent. One of them will be more than happy to let you leave early on Wednesdays so that you can play badminton with your children. They probably pay better too.

2. Monitor progress.

We’ve all heard the expression, “What gets measured gets done.” So, how are you measuring your progress towards your personal and professional goals? If you notice that you’re crossing off work tasks ahead of time but missing runs that are supposed to be building towards that half-marathon next year, those blank boxes where checkmarks should be will point you back to your schedule and your priorities list.

Another valuable form of “measurement” is having people in our lives who hold us accountable. A mentor or business coach who’s had the kind of career you want to have can help you avoid potential pitfalls and identify lanes for growth. Working with a financial advisor can help you stay on track towards short-term financial goals, like buying a new house, while also progressing towards long-term security in retirement.

3. Reevaluate goals.

The things that you want to accomplish as a 20-something college graduate were probably very different from things you want to accomplish in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. Once you near retirement age, the prospect of life without full-time employment will recalibrate what getting the most Return on Life means for you all over again.

As we head into a new year, set aside time to think about everything that you’ve accomplished in 2022, as well as the areas where you might have fallen short. Ask yourself, “What am I working towards? And why?” Do the professional goals you had earlier in your career still motivate you? Or are you simply going through the motions and cashing a paycheck?

Are you happy with the amount of time you’re able to devote to your family and friends? Is there something new you want to learn, or a hobby you want to improve at?

Our Life-Centered Planning process includes flexibility to grow and adapt along with your goals, your career, and your family. Let’s meet and discuss what a fulfilling work-life balance means to you and what steps you can take to improve that balance next year.

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