What does work life balance mean anyway?

18th May 2016
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Achieving work life balance is one of the most frequented discussions the corporate world today. It is every employee’s desire to strike that balance. The fact that it has been a continued topic of discussion, itself suggests that there is no balance and trying to achieve the same is a constant struggle. How do we get there?

Nigel Marsh, the author of Fit, Fifty and Fired-Up, Fat, Forty and Fired and Overworked and Underlaid gave a ted talk on how to achieve work life balance. He spent about 7 years struggling, studying, understanding and eventually writing about it. In his Ted speech, he has shared four key observations basis his years of research questioning the fundamentals of work life balance.

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Acknowledge the reality that some jobs are not designed to give work life balance

All the discussions about flexi time or dress down Friday or paternity leave only serve to mask the core issue, which is that certain jobs and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis with a young family. The first step is to acknowledge the reality of the situation we are in. The reality of our society we are in is that there are so many people out there leading life of quiet desperation who work long hard hours to buy things that they need, impress people that they don’t like.

Set your own boundaries and don’t wait for the organization to do it for you: Accept the fact that government and corporations aren’t going to solve this for us. Commercial companies are designed to get as much out of their employees as they can get away with. It’s in their DNA and this includes all companies, even companies with the best intentions for their employees. I.e. a childcare facility in office campus sounds nice but at the same time it also implies that the employee spends more time in the office.

Therefore, instead of looking outside, its up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility of the type of life we want to lead. If we don’t design our lives, someone else will design it for us.

We are responsible for setting and reinforcing the boundaries that we want in our life

Be careful to choose the time frame upon which we judge our work life balance. We have ideas of things we want to do on a perfect balanced day, the question we need to ask ourselves is that is it set on realistic grounds. We need to understand all that we want cannot be achieved in one day; hence we need to elongate the time frame on which we judge the balance in our life. We should do this without falling in the trap that “I’ll have a life when I retire” Strike a middle way, there may be days you are over stretched and days when you have time.

Approach balance in a balanced way!

Trying to get to a balance will us to a self-interrogation. Is it adding a health program to your daily routine and still continuing with twelve hours? We need to understand that balance is about attending to all aspects of our life be it the intellectual, spiritual or the emotional side.

Being more balanced does not mean bringing dramatic changes in life; it’s the small things that matter. Smallest investments in the right direction can improve the quality of relationships and quality of your life. Moreover, its has the power to transform the society because if enough people do it, it can change the way we view success which is not driven by the proportion of money earned but by a good example of what a life well lived looks like.

We need to sit and paint the canvas of the life we want. Steve Jobs last words is a reflection of what success is and may be should read it to reflect on the quality of life we want to lead and define our success standards!

I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death….”
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