Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
Isn’t it strange that most career explorations are focused on the ability to make money or obtain a specific title? For most of us, our college degree or career path out of high school centers around receiving the highest possible salary.
But what if your wellness and relationships no longer took a back seat? Instead of building your life in the gaps left around your career schedule, consider how you can build a career around your life by pursuing a flexible job that supports work-life balance.
Considering Work-Life Balance
Here’s the thing about understanding your need for work-life balance and actually obtaining it — there is no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for the professional seeking the ability to work and travel the world won’t necessarily work for a disabled retiree needing to bring in extra income, or the mid-career professional juggling childcare duties.
To begin mapping out your ideal work-life blend, examine how a flexible job can support other areas of your life. Then, you can start creating your list of priorities and structuring your best life.
Having a better work-life balance also allows you to focus more on overall wellness. What would it look like if you built your perfect workday without regard for the traditional 9-to-5 office schedule? Would you spend less time in tense meetings and more time doing yoga? How about your commute? Would you adjust your work hours so you could skip rush hour altogether? Who or what would that adjustment make space for in your life?
Making Space for Mental Health
Flexible work extends beyond the benefits of working according to your natural rhythms when you’re most productive and sticking to a healthy sleep schedule. You can lower anxiety with more time for yoga and mindfulness activities, adopt healthier eating, and save money on commuting.
Taking daily breaks for time outside and surrounding yourself with your pets if you’re working from home, even part-time, can create substantial mental health rewards. And as a flexible worker, you’re more likely to report feeling happy in your career and work than your peers in 9-to-5 office jobs, according to a study by Owl Labs.
Building Better Relationships
When you have a more flexible job, scheduling time for the people in your life who matter most to you is more accessible. Whether that means being able to attend your child’s soccer game or going out for coffee with friends on a Wednesday morning, being present for the people you love goes a long way in maintaining healthier and happier relationships.
Regardless of who you’re making space for, a flexible job can ensure that you no longer have anxiety about missing out on essential activities in the lives of your loved ones.
Many flexible workers also find that their finances benefit significantly from choosing a position with scheduling alternatives.
You can take advantage of tax deductions for things like a home office or internet service if you work from home. And if you’re self-employed, you can deduct several business-related expenses come tax time.
Flexible work frequently offers the opportunity to save money in less obvious ways as well. For example, if you work from home, you can save on things like gas, dry cleaning, and lunches out. You’ll also save on commuting expenses and childcare costs when you have more scheduling freedom.
You may also be able to negotiate a higher salary since you’re not incurring the costs of someone who requires in-office support, such as your workstation, office products, electricity, etc.
Taking On a Side Gig
Beyond the obvious benefits of saving money, flexible work often allows you to make more money by balancing additional projects that can boost your income.
For instance, if you’re a freelancer, you can often take on additional clients to increase your earnings. Or, if you have a fixed-term contract, you can supplement your income with a side job.
Even if you’re employed full-time, there’s often room to pick up extra hours or take on part-time work in the time you’d generally commit to commuting to a traditional office job.
Juggling Caregiving Commitments
Are you a working parent? Do you live in a rural area with limited career options? Are you eager to get rid of an extreme commute? No matter your situation, a flexible job can help you find balance between your work and personal lives.
We often think of working mothers when we consider caregiving commitments. Realistically, anyone balancing caregiving and a career benefits from a more flexible work schedule.
Perhaps you and your partner don’t have family nearby to support you, and childcare costs are crippling. Flexible work often means creating a schedule that allows you to work when the other parent is home. Or, perhaps you’re caring for a spouse or parent with a disability and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods.
Regardless of who you’re caring for, a flexible job can ensure that you can balance the care your loved ones require.
Growing Professionally With a Disability or Health Issue
There are many ways in which a flexible career can make a positive difference in your life if you have a disability or health issue. Perhaps that means you can skip a frustrating and challenging commute or create an office environment suited to your needs.
For others, flexible work means being able to care for themselves and attend doctor’s visits without involving their boss or creating the best environment for a service animal throughout the day.
Working remotely can also make it easier to find jobs in the first place, as many employers have created initiatives to support employment for those with disabilities or personal health concerns.
Creating a Portable Career
Whether you dream of working near some turtles on a beach or managing a long-distance commitment to an aging parent, a portable career allows you to take your work with you wherever you go.
If you’re seeking a more nomadic lifestyle, look for jobs that offer work-from-anywhere options, or consider contract-based positions where you can take on short-term projects from anywhere with an internet connection.
Similarly, if you’re trying to manage a long-distance commitment, consider a job that would allow you to take your position with you for a week at a time while you stay with them.
And if you’re a military spouse, you can avoid the stunning underemployment many military families face when an active-duty spouse gets a new station every few years.
Working Through Your Retirement Years
Flexible work doesn’t just benefit those with young children or other caregiving responsibilities. It can also provide the perfect balance for older workers who want to stay in the workforce but don’t want the commitment to full-time hours.
Jobs that offer part-time, freelance, or remote work options are often more willing to hire retirees for these positions. Additionally, many of these jobs don’t require heavy lifting or long hours on your feet, making them a better option for those with age-related health issues.
Thriving With Flexible Work
Flexible work is often about creating a position that meets both the needs of the employer and the employee. What works for one person might not work for another, but there are countless ways in which a more flexible job can positively impact your life.
From creating a portable career to caring for your wellness, a flexible job can greatly impact your life for the better. Take time to create a list of the priorities you’d like to build into your world, and then you can begin the search for the ideal flexibility to make that your new reality.