Question about work and life balance became even more important during the pandemic. Many people struggle to find the right balance between work and their lives. Numerous articles give advice and tips on how to master it and yet the same question still bothers many. In order to help you to find the answer let me rephrase the question and ask you this: why do you choose not to have a balance between your work and life?
It may sound preposterous, I know. However, the rationale behind it is the following: in order to fix something you need to clearly understand what’s broken. With work and life it is the same – in order to create a balance you need to understand why there’s a disbalance in the first place.
Many people still choose to believe that life happens to them and they cannot influence it too much. They believe they are victims of their managers/corporations/ success/whatever external factors and they are forced into the rat race in order to survive, be noticed and/or achieve success. While the perception sounds devastating the reality is different. Below are three main aspects which need to be taken in consideration in order to bring balance between your work and life.
We call it “work” but in most of the cases it has not much to do with it. The real reasons hide deeper. There are so many things that people call “work” without even realising it. For someone work – a need to be noticed, for others – a place to hide from non-existent social life. Someone has a belief that “only those who work hard achieve great results”, others are looking for ways to feel important or prove themselves. Someone is afraid of not being the best therefore does double hours, others have such a bad family situation that hesitate to go home… There are loads of reasons why people choose to prioritize their work over life. One way or the other it’s because work serves them, accommodating their underlying fears, needs or urges.
In order to have more balance between your work and life, the first thing you need to understand is what, in your case, stands behind the word “work”. Can’t there simply be too much work? Yes, it can but only for a limited period of time. If your “too much work” excuse lasts for numerous months or even years, then there is something deeper. Be honest with yourself, notice how you feel after long working day or week. Tired? Maybe, but what else? Proud? Important? Irreplaceable? Fulfilled? A hero, perhaps? Do you use your tiredness as an excuse to get some peace from your partner, family or kids? What is that you are really looking for? That something that makes you choose work over life (even though unconsciously).
The meaning of “Balance”
Once identification of “work” has been completed I suggest digging into the definition of “balance”. The reason I raise this is because there is no obsolete definition that fits all. It varies per individual depending on his/her life situation, needs and commitments. It can differ as you move forward with your life. You need one type of balance when you’re 20 and different type of balance when you’re 40 and that’s fine, because you and only you define it. Therefore, stop taking anyone else as an example – go ahead and create the one of your own!
We often forget that the responsibility for our choices lies with us. It is not with our manager/colleagues/MD/VP, it is not with our friends or family members, it is with US. Of course, colleagues or family could be nicer/more understanding or caring however we have to decide what is it that we really want. We often blame workload, poor assessment or delegation skills of our managers, bad organizational structure of our corporation because we think that they impose things on us. But in reality, we always have a choice. Always! It’s just that sometimes we do not make it.
Taking the responsibility in our own hands disables us from blaming others. On the other hand it empowers us – understanding that we do not need anyone’s consent, approval or permission to make changes we want is liberating! In the beginning it might be unusual or even scary, but it’s just for the beginning. The more you practice the better it feels.
Hence if your previous choices brought you to disbalance – don’t worry! Take a moment to pause, reflect and think of what you really wont. Then go ahead and start making different choices.