Work-life balance is a term you frequently encounter when you join the workforce. It refers to an ideal state of equilibrium between your professional and personal life. As good as it sounds, work-life balance is quite difficult to achieve in reality, not because there is a lack of companies offering flexible working hours, but mainly due to the way we have thought about the concept. Traditionally, the term implies that our lives have two distinct worlds—professional and personal—where we need to allocate an equal number of hours in order to have a balanced existence.
Here are ways you can change the way you think about work-life balance in order to make it easier to achieve.
1) Start with Your Dreams
Before worrying about work-life balance, you need to think about your dreams: What are the things you love to do? Where does your satisfaction and happiness lie? Based on these answers, you can then aim to improve your self-awareness, which can then help you achieve a more balanced approach in managing and structuring your life.
2) Forget About the Work-Life Dichotomy
Most people think that work-life balance is about equally dividing your time between work and personal life—as if we exist in two different worlds. This way of thinking has made achieving this ideal very elusive. Instead of having a perfect “50-50”, you could consider these two concepts more flexibly—you set your own boundaries based on your needs, limitations and life stages.
You must adopt an adaptable mindset to respond to sudden needs as they arise during the day. Activities can be rearranged so that you can accommodate these pressing concerns and return back to your current task or preoccupation as soon as these issues have been resolved.
Finding the right balance is key. A disproportionate amount of time devoted to your work life may result to health concerns like digestive problems or heart disease. It may take you away from spending quality time with your family and loved ones. On the other hand, overindulgence in your personal life may affect your performance and reputation in the workplace.
3) Think Beyond Your Professional Achievements
At times, you may forget that your life is more than the targets you need to meet, or your constant need to impress others. Your over-identification with these professional concerns may obscure your true identity as an individual.
Your intrinsic value lies in who you are: your individual qualities and abilities as well as the varied relationships in your life (e.g. family, friends, colleagues). The work you do and your professional relationships are an extension of who you are.
4) Follow the Cyclical Nature of Flow and Ebb
You experience the rhythm of flow and ebb daily. As work ebbs and dies down at the end of the day, your personal life experiences an increase in the level of engagement or flow as you begin to immerse in personal activities like playing with your children, doing the grocery, calling your spouse or taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood. You need this constant flow and ebb in order to feel more balanced, that is, if you constantly push yourself hard, you might feel burnout; if you take it too easy all the time, you may not make much progress and feel dissatisfied with your life.
In conclusion, achieving work-life balance starts with the way we think about our life and how we deal with everyday activities or tasks. Instead of thinking that we live in two separate worlds—professional and personal—we should remember that we only have one life, where there needs to be a good rhythm of flow and ebb and that we are able to devote time to our work as well as personal interests.
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