On the Topic of Life Balance
The first step toward improving bad work-life balance is dropping the term!
In my research, one complaint employees consistently made was the lack of a good “work-life balance.” This complaint is right up there with bad pay, inadequate budget, and the occasional complaint about the manager.
Why is it that we view work as standing opposite of life? What can help us improve the balance in our lives? And can we learn to drop the term “work-life balance”?
Work Is Bad – Life Is Good?
If we view Mondays through Fridays, eight to five, as the bad times in our life and only the weekends and evenings as good, this means we are spending a major part of our lives suffering, not advancing our goals, and not pursuing what we find truly satisfying and meaningful. To balance this lack of fulfillment, we may find ourselves trying to compensate on weekends with over-consumption, shallow distractions, and entertainment. Or we do the opposite: vegetate on the sofa to recover from our work week. It is little wonder if this model leaves us unsatisfied — fortunately, life is much more versatile than that!
The Good Things in Life Come in Five Buckets –
Introducing Life Balance!
If we look at our lives holistically, we can see that work is an important part of our well-being. So are people such as our partner, our family, and our friends — they all play a significant role in how we feel about life and ourselves. Last but not least it is us who determine to a great extent what life means to us and the quality of life we lead. Balancing these five areas – us, relationship, family, friends, and work – will allow us to attain Life Balance and live a purposeful and fulfilling life.
Let’s look at these five areas a bit more closely.
1. Me, Myself, and I — Being Your Best Friend
Looking at ourselves, we will see that our values, physical health, homes, financial situation, and the time we give to ourselves greatly influence our Life Balance.
Probably the most distinguishing factor about you is your values; your purpose in life, your ethics, your spirituality – whatever you choose to call it. These terms all address that one part of you that is difficult to put into words yet is so important. The meaning you see, the right that you differentiate from the wrong. I will use the term “values” here. If you have not yet established a clear set of values for yourself and have not yet made it a part of your life to live these values, then catching up on this will significantly improve your Life Balance.
“A sound mind in a healthy body” is an oft-quoted reference to the fact that we live in a body and with this body, we seek health. Because many of us have to deal with challenges regarding our health, Life Balance is not strictly about being healthy, but about being in balance with the physical challenges we face. It is obvious that this can be one of the most difficult aspects of Life Balance.
The home that we choose for ourselves is another essential element of our Life Balance. A home provides shelter and protection as well as a place for social interaction, but it can turn into a burden if the financial or operational requirements overwhelm us, or if the environment challenges us with noise, hostile neighbors or other stress factors that prevent us from recharging at home.
Being at ease with ourselves is another key prerequisite for improving our Life Balance. This requires time that we spend on and for ourselves. During this time, we are not catering to others, living up to expectations, or chasing the next task to be completed. This time for ourselves is needed to contemplate what is important to us, to do the things we like, and to recharge after times of high activity. Making time for ourselves is an important task in life. Some need more, others need less, so determine the amount of time you need for yourself and secure it in your day, your week, and your year.
Being able to balance our values, our health, our financial situation, and our home, as well as spend time on ourselves will allow us to be our strongest ally in improving our Life Balance.
2. One Plus One Equals Three?
How Important Is a Relationship for Life Balance?
Having someone walk through life with you as your partner can be an important part of your Life Balance. However, that does not mean that any partner is automatically good, and no partner is always bad. As proof, you will easily find couples in your own environment who are more out of balance than singles you know. Consequently, the question is not whether or not one has a partner but whether one has a partner if one wants one; whether the partner is right for you, and if the resulting partnership is good for both of your Life Balances.
3. Blood Is Thicker Than Water –
We cry, we laugh, we sooth and we yell – family is interesting, emotional, and often nerve-wracking. No matter the status though, the ties between family members are generally stronger than any other ties we weave in our lives, and consequently the family ecosystem has an extraordinarily strong impact on our Life Balance.
How close or far certain family members live from you and how active your communication is also impacts if your family is a source of strength and support—or a source of stress and disharmony.
4. Doubling Your Joys, Dividing Your Sorrows –
That’s What Friends Are For!
There are phases in our lives when we find our friends are more important to us than our families. This only emphasizes the importance of our friends for our well-being. There is no optimal number of friends; neither is there the perfect mix of best, close, and casual friends one should have. Some of us need one best friend, others want to be surrounded by many but not go too deep with any of them.
However, what we all need is understanding our needs and making room for them so that they can be fulfilled.
5. Don’t Trade in Your True Calling for a Job –
Doing Work You Dislike Is Wasting Your Life
While the concept of work-life-balance misleads and narrows down a number of balance factors to only two — your Life Balance is strongly determined by your work. Work doesn’t always equal going to the office every day or even pursuing a profession that pays. Work – in a broader sense – is what we spend our waking hours on; it is the change we try to make on this planet with our daily efforts. This definition of work includes people commuting to an office each morning, freelancers, artists, mothers at home, retirees engaged in a charity, athletes striving to do their best, etc..
Obviously, a minimum degree of financial safety is necessary for good Life Balance. Often, this financial safety comes from your work. No matter what it is though, if your work does not support your purpose in life, your Life Balance will suffer on a conscious or subconscious level.
Life Balance Is Not a Destination, It Is a Journey
Allowing yourself and your employees to maintain a life balance is not a simple task – it is a journey requiring constant care and attention.
But the benefits are obvious: they include happiness, finding your own resilience against hardships and challenges, as well as a clear glimpse of what is important in your life.
Contact us if you would like to find out how you can help your team to improve and maintain a life balance.