The phrase “work-life balance” is often used and sought after. It is something that most of us are struggling to achieve. But if we could be honest about the matter, we are actually not struggling with work-life balance because for most of us, the balance does not exist. That said, we are in fact struggling with getting life back into the phrase.
What happens if you reversed the order and instead start seeking life-work balance? Well, if everyone would do so, we would equally respect all aspects of life and work would not be the priority above all things. However, don’t get me wrong, work is indeed important, but the key is knowing why it is important and the role it plays in your overall well-being so that it serves you and your individual goals in life.
Understanding Work’s Role in Your Life
From a study on well-being by Gallup, our work is the single largest influence on the overall quality of our lives. This is because it takes up most of our time and also we often feel that “who we are” is synonymous with “what we do”. Hence, work influence can be both positive or negative, depending how we manage it. When work is having a positive influence on your life, it can look like this:
- You find a sense of purpose in the work you do.
- You have a great relationship with your manager or boss.
- You have colleagues who are committed to doing quality work.
- You feel that your opinions count.
- You have opportunities to use your natural talent on a regular basis.
- You do your work within reasonable hours (no more than 45 hours per week).
- You have the mental space and time to do “thoughtful and focused work”.
- You are able to disconnect from work and engage in other aspects of your life
so that you can recharge.
But when work is having a negative influence on your life, it can look like this:
- You’re working purely for the money.
- Your boss treats you more like a subordinate than an equal.
- You feel disconnected from your colleagues.
- You don’t feel heard.
- You aren’t using your natural talents or strengths—just being a worker bee.
- Your work is bleeding into all hours of the day and night. You are just getting through endless meetings and tasks without focusing on priorities.
- You feel unable to disconnect from work, and you find yourself thinking about it all the time no matter who you are with or what you are doing.
What Can We Do About It?
The first thing we could gain life-work balance is to put work in its place. Make it to be a positive influence on your life by reviewing the lists above and make adjustment in the positive direction. Choose an item to begin with and share what’s not working with people in your life – family, friends, your manager, or colleague. By vocalizing our commitment to make a change, it helps create accountability and action.
Next, do understand and know, at a profoundly deep level, that your life matters and all aspects of your life does matter – your children, your health, your travel plans, your leisure time, your spouse and your alone time. It all matters and often this is where the spark of life exists.