For as long as I can remember, the whole idea of achieving world-life balance sounded like a sham. From my experience, folks aiming to strike a balance between their work and life end up making trade-offs. And most of them are questionable, which makes me wonder — is it even worth it?
What’s a better alternative to trade-offs? Harmony. The state of consistent, congruous, sometimes orderly but mostly a pleasing arrangement of parts.
Striving for work-life harmony allows one to be flexible, creative, and seamlessly transition between work and life. One can stop keeping an eye on the clock because it’s 9 am and you need to log in, or worse, it’s 6 pm and time to log off. Professionals don’t run by the clock but by priorities. And they also happen to be sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives.
So, integrating our whole self into a system, the lives that we live makes a whole lot of sense. Yet, we strive for balance and cut corners because it feels we don’t have a choice. Yes, the world of work is moving towards “flexible work arrangements”, but that doesn’t negate the stress that work brings in.
We also need to understand that stress occurs when our expectations don’t meet reality. And our expectations are tied to the ideal work-life balance where we switch gears from work to life because that sounds logical; it feels commonsensical, but is it? Would reality ever allow us to change from job to live seamlessly?
I don’t think so, because work never stops. The expectations from our clients, bosses, managers are endless. Not because they’re blood-sucking vampires but because they too have expectations, demanding standards to meet besides their pursuit of achieving work-life balance. It’s chaotic.
And while no magic pill or app can fix or change this reality, having a better perspective sure can, starting with accepting that there’s no such thing called work-life balance. You can aim to make both work and life harmonious, so they complement each other instead of competing with each other.
That might mean you can take a couple of hours off to address an urgent personal matter without any guilt or shame. And work beyond midnight to meet a mission-critical deadline without judging yourself to be an insensitive husband or bad father.
We need to accept that the boundaries between work and life are blurring. Trying hard to etch them out is a desperate attempt to cling to the past or worse, the ideal painted by people who barely knew what it meant to be a professional in the 21st century.