Work life balance, the elegant tightrope act of contemporary existence.
It's become a buzzword. Yet, despite its increasing importance, it appears to be an elusive ideal for many. But why?
Why do we grapple with achieving this harmony between our professional and personal lives? It’s an interesting combination of the complexities of today’s work experience and today's life experiences. Throw in our own beliefs and expectations both on-the-job and at home, and the struggle comes into sharper focus. That's what we’ll be exploring in this series. But first, Let's delve into understanding the roots of our challenges with work life balance.
Our world has transformed rapidly in the last couple of decades. Our boundaries have blurred between work and home. Emails pop up on our smartphones at all hours, team messages link us to our colleagues insistently, and the nature of global business brings video calls into our evenings and early mornings.
The ubiquity of digital technology, while a boon in many ways, has rendered the separation between work and life porous and, in some instances, virtually non-existent. We find ourselves tethered to our work indefinitely, leading to an unprecedented erosion of personal time and space. It's important also to recognize that the same tethering happens with our home and life responsibilities, too.
To add additional pressure, societal expectations and self-imposed pressures also often fuel our struggle. The narrative of ‘success’ equates it with professional accomplishment, which can subconsciously compel us to over-prioritize our work. The myth of the 'ideal worker', one who is always available, ready to meet deadlines, and constantly exceeds expectations, is a demanding and, often, unrealistic standard. This can lead to a disproportionate focus on work at the expense of personal life. You may have an added burden of feeling this pressure in life, too, because of the expectations or being a good partner, friend, parent, child, etc.
Further compounding the challenge is the fact that many of us struggle with defining what work-life balance truly means to us.
It isn't a one-size-fits-all concept. For some, it might mean leaving work at 5 pm to spend time with family. For others, it could be dedicating certain days to pursue a passion project at work. Without a personalized understanding of what balance looks like, to you, there's a risk of pursuing a vague, undefined goal, leading to inevitable frustration and dissatisfaction.
So, how do we navigate this predicament?
First, it's crucial to remember that work-life balance isn't about an exact equilibrium but rather a dynamic ebb and flow.
There will be times when work needs more attention and times when your personal life takes precedence. Accepting this fluidity can alleviate the pressure to achieve balance. But to see the balance in action, you have to pause and reflect on what you’re experiencing.
Tip: Check in with yourself. Are you feeling satisfaction with both your work and your life right now? How about with either life or work? If the balance is “off” set goals for bringing more attention to the balance.
Second, it's essential to define what work-life balance means to you. Taking into account your career aspirations, personal commitments, and personal interests. Craft this definition, refine it, and use it as your compass.
Tip: When doing this, be sure to weave in things that you get lost in when you’re doing them. Some people rock-climb, others garden while others volunteer. They love doing it so much they lose track of time. Look for the things that relax and re-energize you and integrate them into your schedule.
Last, setting boundaries is key. This might mean making a conscious effort to unplug after work hours, taking regular breaks, or communicating your availability to your colleagues. It can also mean carving out what is traditionally thought of as “work time” to do something that you love. Remember, it's not just about managing your time but also managing your energy.
Tip: Check out our video series on boundaries at work on You-Tube
Achieving a healthy work-life balance requires on-going effort as your life and work circumstances change. It's a dance that requires constant adjustments, understanding, and attention. And while it may be a challenge, it is also an opportunity for growth, self-discovery, and ultimately, a happier and more fulfilled life.
Balance is not found, it is created. We’ll discuss this concept more in our next post:
Demystifying Healthy Work Life Balance.
If you’re ready to start Thriving@Work and in Life check out our programs, workshops, and classes at The Soul Spot.