Work Life Balance has become something to be aspired to however what’s really happened is it’s become yet another measure of how we fail to negotiate our way in the modern world. Its touted as some kind of panacea, a life in which there is perfect balance, you always leave work at the preferred time, you meet your family, fitness and business schedules in every 24 hour period, with never a hair out of place.
Seriously, who lives this life?
I can guarantee you no one I know. The problem with chasing something unattainable is that in it’s pursuit you’re robbed of your energy, enthusiasm and self belief, and it certainly kills your passion for your work as you start to see it as the enemy in the fight to reclaim some personal space.
To be totally transparent as I write this article I am sitting in a noisy airport working on my laptop in preparation for a 3 day Leadership Retreat I am co-facilitating. I’m heading away from my loved ones to work over a weekend, it ‘s one of many working weekends for me. Let me be clear, this is a choice I am making. Do I miss my family, yes of course, as anyone does when they travel regularly for work. Does it disrupt my social life, yes it does. Do I love what I do, absolutely!
So what’s the point I am trying to make?
In a conversation with a very wise friend we discussed the insanity of the work life balance myth and our preference for creating work life harmony. In this case the definition is not that you have everything perfectly balanced but that your choices are harmoniously balanced between professional and person aspects of your life. For example you know you have a super busy period of work activity coming up, after which things will settle down. You take the time to communicate with your family, friends, and significant other and you enroll their support. It’s always good for them to know it’s not forever and negotiating the payoffs ahead of time, like special outings, ensuring you’re around for special occasions and highlighting the family holiday you have planned or the romantic weekend you’ve scheduled. Perhaps you have a project you need to work flat out on for a month and after that you can claw back some time or resume leaving work on time and getting home to prepare dinner, do homework with the children or have a pre dinner beverage or exercise session.
Great Communication is the Key
The key to work life harmony is clear communication, so that everyone knows what’s happening and you can seek the support you need from those you care about. Lets face it, great communication is the foundation of all healthy functional relationships both professionally and personally. So where do you stand on the work life harmony scale? Personally I’d take it one step further and say it’s all just life and we get to choose how we spend it and the attitude we take with us into all facets of our lives. So they’re calling my flight, I’m packing up my laptop and heading onto the plane destined to spend 3 day changing leaders lives so they can return to their families and teams refreshed and with renewed passion in hand. How does it get any better than that!
Love to hear your thoughts on balancing all the aspects of your life – and how you make it work for you.