For years, Your Workplace has touted the importance of work-life balance. We even made it part of our corporate values statement. If balancing work on the one hand with life on the other was a cause to uphold, then I was the champion in our workplace — and one of its biggest proponents beyond our walls as well.
But like all movements toward change, we usually have to endorse an extreme version of it first, ensuring momentum is created to make that change occur. Eventually, the extreme version gives way to a more moderate stance and ultimately settles somewhere in the middle. And a movement away from the concept of work-life balance is no exception.
If it is better for you to attend a parent’s appointment at 1pm and finish a report at 6am, then do it.
The notion that we each have two separate lives — one work and one life — requiring different treatment is unreasonable. The long-held notion of ensuring your personal life does not suffer at the expense of your work responsibilities, by compartmentalizing each to ensure carefully walking the fine line between the two, is obsolete.
In order to find the right balance, the proper amount of time must be given to allow things to settle to a more “natural” stage. By pitting work against life there is an implication that work is the negative experience and life is the positive one. Why should work be perceived as negative? We spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, earning a living to support ourselves and our family. The experience should be enriching, and if not that, at least a reality within our lives.
We have to let go of the unachievable idea of work-life balance and start looking at things with a more individualistic lens. We are singular whole people, and every effort or action we take should be rooted in approaching each other holistically.
Whether you are grocery shopping, preparing a presentation, chairing a meeting, taking an elderly parent to an appointment, dealing with being short-staffed, going for a brisk walk at lunch or cheering on your child’s soccer game, it should be understood that it all makes up the threads of the tapestry of our very existence.
Isolating work from life is not only impossible but it places enormous strain, anxiety and tension on an unachievable goal.
Life is fluid and organic. We no longer have to compartmentalize the difference aspects of our selves. We no longer have to balance one against the other. We can have it all. Breaking down time to do work between 8am to 4pm, dinner from 5pm to 6pm, kids homework (or sport) from 6pm to 8pm or whatever your formula is, needs to stop. If it works for you, fine. But if it is better for you to attend a parent’s appointment at 1pm and finish a report at 6am, then do it. We are responsible adults after all.
Think about what is important to you. Make a list and prioritize.
The needs of individuals are constantly shifting. Allowing the whole person to show up at work (and at home) requires an investment in understanding mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being.
Who you are is who you are everywhere. No matter where you go, there you are, so it’s important to integrate work and life together rather than separating the different aspects of self in order to fit some pre-determined label of how work and life are supposed to exist.