Work Life - Balance

Beginning the Journey of Work- Life Balance

One of the most confusing concepts to recently emerge in the Human Resource world, is the concept of work – life balance. If understood literally, the concept seems to imply a perfect symmetry, or complete equality between work and personal life. Is this actually possible? From personal experience the perfect work – life balance is not just elusive but impossible. So why work at it?

From a psychological view point, the concept draws my mind back to lessons gleaned from Erik Erikson’s 8th stage of psychosocial development. This is the final stage that occurs in old age, whose focus is reflecting back on life. An individual at this point in development, looks back on the life they have lived and they are both happy and satisfied with it, or end up with regrets that lead to bitterness and despair. Erikson concludes that the former, will attain wisdom even when confronting death. Therein lies my motivation for trying to find a sense of work – life balance.

Because the term work-life balance is a challenge for my mind to wrap around, I start with a redefinition of the concept. Since work and personal life are key elements in our being, I do not think they are in competition but rather they complement each other. As such I choose to view it in terms of work – life harmony or work – life alignment. This does not necessarily mean a 50:50 ratio division of time and effort towardeither; rather it allows for fluctuation of focus and effort at any given time, whilst achieving personal goals.

So how does one attain this alignment? It is not a onetime event but is ongoing, requiring constant effort that makes one’s life a genuine reflection of who they truly are. Here are four (4) simple steps to findingharmonization of the work and personal lifejourney.

1. Cast your vision into the future:What would you like to see in your life in old age? What events, relationships, achievements or things would give you a sense of accomplishment and joy? One of the best ways I have found that works well is to actually write your own eulogy as you would want it read at your funeral. This will clearly outline what is most important to you.

2. Prioritize:List everything highlighted in step 1 above in the order of priority then develop a way to meet these ideas, goals and dreams even as you work. Since life is very dynamic, priorities shift at different stages of life but we must nevertheless, keep sight of our priorities.

3. Be flexible:A problem will arise if you look at your priorities as being set in stone. Life throws interesting curve balls, either pleasant or unpleasant, our way that will require re-planning, changing directions or shuffling priorities. There are times when work will demand a lot more from you, but there are also seasons that life will do the same. This is the adventure called life. Do not fight rather ebb with the flow and enjoy the ride.

4. Compromise:Acknowledge that you will not be able to find an ideal 50:50 balance and anticipate it as a lifelong process of compromise. The aim is to do your best and over time, you will find that you will attain an individual rhythm.

The key to remember is that because our personal visions are as varied as the number of persons walking on planet earth, the journey of aligning your work and personal life is personal. What works for me, may not work for you and that is just the reality.

Are you willing to join me and take the first step as we start the journey of alignment? Are you courageous enough to write your eulogy?

The conversation continues…………..

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