Monday, 1 May 2017

Life Balance - The Possible Pursuit

“Balance is Bull Sh*t”, was Mia Freedman’s preferred title for her just released book.

Instead, it became “Work Strife Balance” after the difficulty of having such a title on display at the Local Bookstore or Supermarket was explained to her.

The whole idea of work/life balance has crossed my horizon on a seemingly regular basis these last few months.

It first arose in a meeting I had with a Senior Executive back in February. He referenced the importance of work/life balance and was somewhat shocked when I responded with “that is a pointless pursuit”.

He stammered a little and he said yes when I asked if he would like me to expand on my comment.

I explained that the concept of work life balance implies there is work time and non-work time.  I asked if I spend 12 hours working and 12 hours not working, is that balanced? I said that surely, we should be aiming for Life Balance.

He was a little uncomfortable and suggested we could perhaps discuss at another time. I was in no position to argue.

The idea that Work/Life balance is rubbish, had surfaced for me a few weeks earlier. It is a concept that from memory became popular about 15 years ago and seemed to me to be something employers who wanted to be seen as empathetic and engaging talked about. In reality, nothing happened apart from talk.

Life Balance is a more individual thing. To me, routinely working hard for 8 hours and then spending the next 10 hours eating pizza and drinking beer watching repeat episodes of American crime shows is not “balance”.

However, to that person, my routine of getting up at 4.15am most mornings and cycling 30 to 50 kilometres before my work day is not balance.

Confucius is credited with the following quote:

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

If you absolutely love what you do, is spending 60 hours a week doing it “balanced”?

Perhaps the key to life balance is having control over what it is we do, feeling empowered to do what we love to do when we have control of our environment which for most of us will be our non-work time.

The fact is, many of us do not have careers we love. Much of what we do for work does not excite or inspire us. Most of us are content with what we do, but are not inspired or excited on a daily basis.

So, what is Life Balance?

If it includes eating pizza and drinking beer, if that is what you love to do, you have balance.
If it includes waking at 4.15am and cycling, you have balance.
If it includes prioritising playing and hanging out with your 2-year-old daughter, you have balance.
If it involves reading, writing, cooking, painting, playing or listening to music, you have balance

But, as with very many things, it is being honest with ourselves about what it is we love to do. The reality is, we all too often do not acknowledge, communicate or admit what this is. We feel pressured to conform to others expectations or perceived community standards.

Life Balance is an individual thing – no two people are the same.

What is Balance for you?

No comments: