When life gives you lemons: open up a lemonade shop, and use invoicing software to manage your accounting! Ok... not really, but hey if that's what you want to do then we support you all the way! Although that’s not exactly the topic of this article.
The topic we want to share with you today is about work-life balance, and how to find - and master - that harmony between the two. Because, let’s face it, sometimes life hands us lemons, and other times life throws us lemons at full speed, totally unexpected. That’s usually how things work these days, and we’ve gotten pretty used to expecting the unexpected.
Now down to the real stuff, what does “work-life balance” actually mean?
The so called “work-life balance”
To start off, “work-life balance” is a topic that usually stirs up a lot of opinions and discussions. The reason for this is because we have all developed the innate idea that we, as humans, should live a life of balance between our professional work life, and our private personal life with family and friends.
The only problem here is the unwritten assumption that people live a similarly structured life - a loving family at home filled with care and support, and a career crafted to encourage your financial and professional gain.
Although, this is not to say that work-life balance does not exist and that it's pointless to try and sculpt your life into something because that's the norm! Work-life balance is undoubtedly important and crucial for your mental and physical well-being, after all a healthy life balance helps avoid burning out in your workplace. However, the only thing we are trying to voice here is that the phrase “work-life balance” means something different to each and every one of us.
The evolution of work-life balance
The ideology behind the working life has constantly evolved over time, and will continue to do so. Firstly, just try and consider the mentality towards work for millennials nowadays, versus baby boomers in the late 1940s.
Even over the duration of only the past few decades, the work life has developed immensely - with more women in higher and more powerful positions (yay for women!), and millenials making up for a large share of the workforce.
To look at a brief timeline of work-life, we can start all the way from the industrial age with unions, to the development of a work culture, to democracy and the fundamental value of equality, to loyalty, to empowerment, and to team-building.
These changes arose from a number of factors, namely the development and advancement of technology. The typical 9-5 working hours turned into working around the clock, spending more time at work than anywhere else, with little to no vacation days. In effect, this began drawing attention to the many cases of mental health problems and stress caused by overworking.
As a result, high end companies shifted their priorities and introduced stress relieving techniques to their workplace. Nowadays, you will find many companies that offer gym facilities, game and lounge rooms in the office, flexible and remote work schedules, and partake in a number of fun team-building activities outside of the office.
So, as you can see, the work life has evolved a lot over time, which also means that the meaning behind “work-life balance” is a bit hard to put a finger on. Instead of chasing this imaginary “work-life balance”, you should start realising that your version of balance is only created when you find that your life (both personal and work) are congruent with your own priorities and values.
The key to achieving balance
Setting yourself goals about things you are passionate about, whilst parallely respecting your health, happiness, career, and relationships, is the key to achieving balance. Once you acknowledge your priorities, you can start dedicating most of your time towards them.
For some, the priority might be spending all evenings and weekends at home with your family, while for others their priority might be building and excelling in their professional career. And both scenarios are perfectly fine! At the end of the day each of us have different values and priorities, and the sooner you establish yours then you can focus on sculpting your life to fit them.
If you really think about it, there is actually no such thing as “work-life balance”, but rather its just “life balance”. Your work and your personal life should not fall into two different categories - in fact, how can they?
Imagine your friends and family are the reason why you decided to start your own business. And now think about how your work has become such an integral part of your life - work dinners with people who are than just colleagues to you, but are also friends. All those lunchtime conversations, all the meetings spent together, it starts taking up a big portion of your life.
So, I guess you could say it goes both ways, which is why this strict idea of “balance” is starting to become more like a fluid or blend.
Life won’t always feel balanced though. Sometimes you will work a job which you have a strong passion for, and you will need to remember to take some time for self care and to not only spending every hour of the day working or thinking about work. Other times you will work a job which you’re not so passionate about. In this case, you will need to find an activity outside of work to keep your motivation, energy, and happiness levels up.
Moral of the story?
Stop worrying about trying to find a “work-life balance”, and start paving the way for a what you would call a good life, and just “balance” in general, by doing what you love - and finding ways to be happy in situations where you might not be.
As we’ve already mentioned, sometimes life will throw lemons in your face, and other times it will gently hand them to you. Either way, use these lemons to make something better, something you love. Make lemonade, grab tequila and salt, squeeze it in your tea, or bite them whole - do whatever will make you the most happy! And guaranteed, your idea of “balance” will follow.