Why do we strive for work-life balance? What is it anyway? Is it just a marketing ploy conjured by a group of brilliant minds outside the so called ‘rat race’? Is there really such a thing as work-life balance?
Work-Life Balance (WLB)
The term Work-Life Balance was coined in the 1980’s. As defined by Forbes magazine, Gen Xers (children of the Baby Boomers) witnessed how stressed out their parents were with long hours at work. This has significantly made an impact on their relationships and the overall atmosphere at home.
Hence, when it was time for the Gen Xers to join the ‘rat race’ they longed for better employment benefits such as paid vacation, maternity and paternity leaves. On the other hand, employers, aside from paid leaves, also began offering perks to cultivate a happy work environment. They added recreational activities into the work place like game rooms and ping-pong tables.
Significant scientific studies have also been published on work-life balance. Type ‘WLB’ on Google search. You will discover a good number of scientific journals on work-life balance.
What Does Work-Life Balance Mean To Me?
Work-life balance has been defined by many authors since its conception. Here is how I understand Work-Life Balance:
1. State of equilibrium
Work-life balance is a state of equilibrium. WLB is about finding harmony between work and personal life. It is not about giving equal allocation of one’s time for work and personal life, i.e. one is to one.
WLB is subjective. What could be too much to one may be too little to another. There is also satisfaction in achieving a great many things. To accomplish great things, one has to toil and put great effort. As the old adage says, Rome was not built in a day. The key is finding the optimal point between stress and rest. One can only be productive if one is well-rested.
“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber
3. Is in constant motion and evolving
The balance between work and life is in constant motion over time. What one finds as work-life balance in his 40’s may not be the same as when he was in his 20’s. Perhaps after college, one’s motivation is to climb the corporate ladder as high as possible. This would then require a lot of days of staying late in the office– especially when one shares an apartment with his peers making the house not conducive to productivity. Aside from having to come up with and roll out quality marketing plans, one would also have to endure the gridlock to and from the central business district. One might find this totally okay while another may find it too stressful.
When one reaches his prime, his priorities may also change. By now, he can already come up with a quality presentation-ready marketing plan in a day or two. Hence, he may find staying late in the office totally unattractive, unsmart and unproductive.
Strive to thrive
There is no silver bullet to achieving work-life balance. Finding harmony between two seemingly opposing poles is no easy-peasy. Further, work-life balance is personal and evolving. WLB is a life-long endeavor. It is not a myth but a life goal. Find time and go to your core. Assess your priorities. Commit to it and effectively manage your time.
With the ongoing pandemic, improving our work-life balance becomes all the more challenging. Let us not be weary and be content with just surviving COVID-19. Let us strive for work-life balance to thrive.
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