Work Life Balance

Today’s post is aimed at work life balance. Most work situations involves many individuals working together. Each individual has their own personality and ego. This translates to various preferences and viewpoints. When we go to work, we have to adjust with all the other individuals in our team and with the clients in order to meet an agreed goal and meet agreed criteria of success. This involves coming to terms with conflicts arising from the various personalities.

On the personal front, there are equal demands. Demands that if not met, would lead to conflicts and ongoing stress. After a tough day at work, you expect to find comfort and to unwind in the safe surroundings of your home. If you do not consistently meet the demands placed on you by your family, that safe zone goes away and you are unable to charge your batteries for the next day at work because you need to face conflicts at home too.

Our bodies react to the ratcheting stress by slowly stopping to do its job perfectly. Some develop hypertension while others may be unable to sleep. If this condition sustains, it reduces your quality of life and life expectancy. That brings us to the obvious question, is this a no win situation? You work hard and erode your health in the quest to earn money and prestige. Then you spend that money to sustain your life and ailments that you inflicted on your body while pursuing your career. You invest your youth and energy for your employer at the cost of spending time with your family and when you retire, your discover that you have grown distant from your family over the years and it is now difficult to avoid being lonely.

If everyone knew how long they will live, it would be easier to put a savings target and get out of the rat race and live a healthy life. Unfortunately, you never know if you will live to be 50 or 90! If we assume we are going to live to 90 and work furiously to earn, would it not be a shame to develop some life threatening health problem or get into an accident and kick the bucket at 60 leaving all the money behind to spoil someone else’s life? On the other hand, if you assume you will die at 50 and take life easy and spend your initial years backpacking, concert going and working part time only to discover that you are super healthy and may live to 90 but still don’t own a home and probably now have to dial down your lifestyle as you don’t have money and people your age are well settled while you need to work at entry level jobs!

The happy medium is somewhere in between. As we work in a competitive environment to get ahead, we need to ensure that we put away enough money for the future. We need to take a break every three months for a week to spend time with family and recharge the batteries. If you are working in a company that does not allow you to do so, it would be worth trying to move into one that does.

Another thing to remember is to avoid the temptation to believe that you alone can save the day. Avoid the temptation to hoard knowledge so that everyone has to depend on you. While it may not seem professionally wise to share knowledge and information and make your colleagues independent, it sure helps you get your one week vacation every quarter because the company can no longer say that they cannot do without you.

As a full time employee, you may have an illusion of security of employment; however, you will have to be at the beck and call of your employer. In other words, you are not paid by the hour so you can be called round the clock and will be unable to avoid it. On the other hand if you become a contractor who is paid by the hour, you will be respected more in terms of the sensibility of the employer to not ask you stay late waiting for some deliverable that does not arrive till the next day.

However, on the flip side, as a contractor; you are responsible for your own medical insurance and pension. You are responsible to find your next gig. On the other hand, as a full time employee, you have the illusion of security of pension but you may have the misfortune of your company going bankrupt and losing the pension or letting you go when there is a market downturn.

What does this all mean? It means that the only people who will stay with you and suffer or enjoy with you are your family.  The only other thing that will stay with you is your body. It would be a good strategy to base all your decisions keeping your family first and taking care of your body firs. This in turn leads to a good foundation for work-life balance. The tricky part is that despite having these concepts in my mind, I have found myself in situations where it had been difficult to refuse employer demands to work long hours.

These days we have the concept of working from home. This helps to better manage the work life balance. You need discipline to do your work and the professionalism to keep your workplace quiet and organized at home. You get to eat at home; spend most of your time with your pets and family.

At one time, I experimented with being my own boss and ran a business. It is not all that it is cut out to be. As an entrepreneur, I had business on my head 24X7. If your spouse works with you in your business, it is going to be non stop working and could take a toll in your relationship.

It is critical that you develop a healthy self esteem and do not allow your professional identity to take too much significance over your personal identity. Another way of expressing this concept is that you work so that you can provide for the needs of a good life; you do not live to work.

If presently you feel overwhelmed at work, disconnected from family and anxious about the future; it is time to take a serious look at your work life balance and work towards a reset. In the next post, I will put forward my opinion on stress and a few ways to handle it.

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